The cover letter is the job-seeking document that applicants often have the most trouble with. Is it supposed to be a reiteration of your resume? Super formal? Casual? Are you selling yourself, or trying not to sound too braggy?
Read on for essential tips to writing a cover letter that will get you in the door for an interview.
Keep it Concise
There’s nothing worse than an overly long cover letter. It should never be more than two paragraphs long. To keep things as concise as possible, remember that your cover letter isn’t meant to be a rehashing or reiteration of everything you’ve ever done. It’s meant to be an introduction to you and your background that complements your resume, highlights the most important things about your education and experience, and gives employers a sense of who you are and why you might be right for the company.
Always customize your cover letter to reflect the company and position you’re applying for. Specifically mention the job in the subject line (if it’s an email) and in the first two sentences of your letter. Highlight particular parts of the job description that spoke to you, and explain why you’d be a good fit for both the organization and the specific job.
Be Straightforward, Not Aggressive
While your cover letter is meant to outline your relevant qualifications as they pertain to the position you’re applying for, it’s not an attempt at sales. Your tone should be straightforward and to-the-point without getting aggressive or trying to “close the deal” in a pushy way. State your relevant qualifications and the things about the job you’d most enjoy, as well as the factors that you feel set you apart from other applicants, without being condescending or in-your-face.
Don’t Be Overly Formal
You might have been taught to use “To Whom it May Concern” as your email/cover letter opener, but that’s generally considered too informal nowadays. Instead, address the cover letter to the hiring manager or to your potential supervisor.
In the same vein, there’s no need to adopt overly formal sentence structure, avoid contractions, or otherwise come across as stuffy. Keep it professional, not closed-off and robotic.