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Top Four Qualities of an Outstanding Cover Letter

Imagine that you are meeting your romantic partner’s parents for the first time. Chances are, you would dedicate some time to enhancing your appearance in order to make the best possible impression on the people who will hopefully become very important in your life. Believe it or not, the cover letter you include with your resume is the written equivalent of that nice outfit and careful grooming. The only difference is that you’re not meeting your future in-laws; you are introducing yourself to your prospective employer. Here are four ways to make that cover letter sizzle that will put you above the rest:

1. Make it personal. Your cover letter is not merely your resume in sentence and paragraph form. In fact, it is the stage on which you can humanize and augment your resume’s dry contents. Use it to highlight your specific personality traits that would make you an excellent candidate for the job, and the job a perfect match with your interests and skill set.

2. Make the most of your available space. In most cases, your cover letter should not exceed one page. That is why it should be a companion piece to your resume, not an echo of it. For that reason, only touch on your work and educational experience, thus encouraging the reader to take the time to peruse your more detailed resume.

3. 3. Highlight those subtle qualities and traits that don’t jump out at the reader in your resume. If you have received a piece of glowing praise from a former employer that is relevant to this position, find a way to insert it into your cover letter. Remember, this single page of words is possibly your only chance to distinguish yourself from all of the rest of that vast pool of job applicants. Don’t be shy; do be relevant, specific and precise.

4. Tailor your letter to the particular company and job at hand. When you’re trying to impress a person, you take time to listen to them and to focus on their interests and beliefs. The same principle holds true when you are introducing yourself to a potential employer you want to woo. To the extent that you can demonstrate your knowledge of their organization, its mission, goals and priorities, you can also show how your skills and abilities can be an asset. One of the best ways to keep any reader’s interest is by letting them know that you are aware of who they are and what they want. The cover letter that accomplishes this task is almost always read from top to bottom and its accompanying resume given the attention it deserves.

Whether it’s that all-important social introduction or the piece of writing that will get your resume noticed, never forget that you have control over the message and how it is presented. Take the time to make that introduction pop. The rewards might just change your life.

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