7 Tricks to Make Writing Cover Letters Less Horrible.

by Sarah Perryman

Just kidding, it’ll still be horrible. So why do we do it?

If a recruiter is on the fence about your resume, a great cover letter is what’s going to make them pick up the phone and give you a call. They are a necessary evil, and we’re here to make this whole process (slightly) less painful.

1. Find your format.

Now that the internet exists (thanks Al Gore), most the cover letters you send will either be a PDF or an email. If it’s a PDF, create a header with your name and contact information. If it’s an email, this will be your signature. In either case, make sure it matches what you put on your resume.

2. “I am writing to you because…”

Kick it off with the title and location of the position you’re applying for, and who (if anyone) recommended you for it. Remember: name dropping is shameless but effective.

3. Show you’ve done your research.

Drop details that show you’re familiar with the company and what it does. Little things like finding the name of the hiring manager instead of lamely writing “To whom it may concern” or

4. Make it about the company.

Instead of focusing on how this job will be beneficial to you, take this as an opportunity to show how you will be an asset to the team.

5. Highlight the right skills.

Remember the job descriptions you annotated when you wrote your resume? Expand on (don’t repeat!) what you wrote in your resume. Talk about results, times you took initiative, and how your experience makes you right for this role.

6. Keep it short, keep it positive, keep it grammatically correct.

Never waste time apologizing for skills or experience you don’t have— be confident, focus on your willingness to learn and eagerness to contribute. Make sure every sentence has a purpose. And proofread. Always proofread. If you’ve already read it twice, do it once more. And have a friend look at it, just for good measure.

7. Make it easy on yourself— have a couple different templates.

Job responsibilities typically don’t change much, so create a general template that shows off skills relevant for each type of role you apply for. While it’s still important to tailor each letter to each organization, the bulk of the work will already be done.

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