How to Write a Standout Cover Letter

Although writing a cover letter can often be frustrating, it is the first and most important thing a potential employer sees. The right cover letter can get you one step closer to an interview. Here are a few tips to make the writing process easier and your cover letters more successful:

Keep your cover letter well organized and easy to read. Use the first paragraph to explain why you are contacting the organization. Be sure to include any mutual acquaintances and mention your interest in the company or a specific position. In two to three concise body paragraphs, elaborate on your relevant skills, experience, knowledge and expertise. Conclude the cover letter by reiterating your interest in the company and mentioning a call to action, such as “I look forward to hearing from you.”

Tailor your descriptions of skills and experiences to fit the position. Use the job posting as a guide to identify two or three key skills that the employer is looking for. Then, brainstorm the ways in which your skills or experiences illustrate those reoccurring themes. By using key terms from the job posting, you can show that you not only understand what the job entails, but that you’re the right fit for the position.

Remember, they want to know what you can do for them. The more clearly you illustrate how you can benefit the organization, the more likely they call you for an interview. Consider concluding each of your body paragraphs with a sentence summarizing how the skill or experience you mention is relevant and how it will impact the employer.

For more advice on writing a standout cover letter, read this post on the seven-step resume makeover and this article on the mind trick that will help you write a more creative and passion-filled cover letter.

What has been your most successful trick to writing a unique cover letter? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Photo credit: Kazuho Okui via Flickr

DSC_0093Hannah Osborn, external relations committee member, is a junior pursuing a double major in public relations and magazine journalism. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahmarieoz.

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One comment on “How to Write a Standout Cover Letter
  1. I am currently a PR student at the University of Oregon and I am taking an extra course about how to find a job/internship. In this course we been able to edit and tailor our resumes, learned how to find job openings, practiced interview questions and most recently we have been learning how to write a successful cover letter. In the past I have always felt the least confident in this area but after having some practice I am feeling a lot more confident. After reading this post and taking into consideration the tips you gave I think I could really succeed in the next cover letter I submit to a job. Lets hope so! Thanks for the tips!

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