Secrets to Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

John Krautzel
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The cover letter is one of the most useful – and most dreaded – tools of the job search. With a compelling letter, you can captivate an employer and bring more attention to your application. With a boring document, you run the risk of getting lost in the crowd. In most cases, the time and effort it takes to write a powerful application letter are worth it in the end.

Keep It Short

When you are writing your cover letter, brevity is best. Hiring managers are busy and do not have time to read through pages of text. In fact, using more than one page for your cover letter is an easy way to get your application tossed into the reject pile. Instead, stick to three or four paragraphs and aim for a length of between a half page and three-quarters of a page. In most cases, shorter is better.

Use an Information Hierarchy

The hiring manager probably does not have time to read and process every word of your cover letter. He is more likely to scan it, stopping to read sentences that stand out. Catch the reviewer's attention by using an information hierarchy. Place the most important information near the top of the page and at the beginning of each paragraph. Ask a friend to read it quickly and tell you what he remembers; if his answer doesn't match your intentions, adjust the structure for clarity.

Make the Employer's Job Easier

During a round of hiring, an employer reads through numerous applications to find the one person who best meets the company's current needs. Use your cover letter to make the reviewer's job easier by connecting the dots between your experience and the responsibilities of the open position. Go through the job posting and identify the most crucial requirements; then, use your letter to show that you are capable of meeting those requirements. If the job description emphasizes the importance of budget management, for example, explain how you managed a $3 million budget and cut costs simultaneously in your last job.

Avoid Boilerplate Text

Career centers and online cover letter examples often advise you to start your letter by saying, "I am writing to apply for X position, which I saw posted on Y website." Unfortunately, every other applicant has also seen these resources, which means that hiring managers receive a slew of letters with virtually the same opening sentence. Help your letter stand out from the crowd by using original language throughout. Find powerful alternatives to standard job search phrases, such as "extensive experience" or "creative." Don't be afraid to inject your personality and enthusiasm into the letter, as long as you can do so while maintaining a professional tone.

Writing an excellent cover letter is no easy task. In many cases, it requires several rounds of writing and editing to create an original document. By making the effort to craft the perfect piece, you can give yourself an edge over the competition.


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    Examples of Cover Letters would be very helpful.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    A cover letter is a way of selling yourself using complete sentences and paragraphs instead of bullets. A cover letter is a way of completing the story that you started on your resume - sort of filling in the blanks. A cover letter is a way of explaining how you can better the company, not how the company can better you. Don't be afraid of it. @Judi - you could probably find tons of examples of cover letters on the internet but they wouldn't be you. This needs to come from you. If the job posting says resume only - then you don't need one. Otherwise, send a cover letter for every job. The more you write, the easier it will be!

  • Judi C.
    Judi C.

    Yes ....good advice but examples could help those of us who are new to all of this job hunting experience. I have heard the pros & cons of using a cover letter. When I feel inspired I go for it & write one on the spot. Thanks for the advice and to all Happy Hunting!

  • Michael O.
    Michael O.

    Truly this an important segment of a Resume, one of which have had tough times drafting .Anyway thanks to you for the provisions of phrases/paragraphs good guidelines to get me through

  • Juan Pablo Centeno
    Juan Pablo Centeno

    Very good

  • Elicia A.
    Elicia A.

    Thank you for all your specified, practical advice.


    Good advice. Examples would help more

  • Patrick G.
    Patrick G.

    Very informative and helpful, Thanks

  • BENZ S.
    BENZ S.

    Good advice, thanks

  • Amira N.
    Amira N.

    Very Good Idea Thanks

  • Amira N.
    Amira N.

    Great Idea ! I like it


    Great advise! Thanks.

  • Desi H.
    Desi H.

    All of this is usful yet examples of what a emploer wants specifically would be extremely helpful. Thanks

  • Hilary M.
    Hilary M.

    I have people in the Department I work in that will not even consider the resume if you have not written out a cover letter.

  • Daniel D.
    Daniel D.

    I can tell you that the last two positions that I was hired was because I was the only candidate that took the time to write and then send a cover letter. I was told not only was it professional but that it showed an, "above and beyond" attitude that they were searching for.

  • Daniel O.
    Daniel O.

    I have been told my a few HR managers the cover letter is never considered or read. Any thoughts or comments?


    In today's society how many cover letters actually make it to the hiring manager? If you don' t have the correct word or phrase the computer program rejects your cover letter and resume immediately. It gets frustrating at times when you get a rejection email within minutes of applying for a job.

  • Gary Tanel
    Gary Tanel

    I noticed some people don't even take the time to send a cover letter. Thinking the goal is to send out as many resumes as possible. The goal is to get a good job, so take the time to word it to match the needs in the job description.

  • latisa  K.
    latisa K.

    I agree with Diana in the post below.. I too wish I could get paid for looking for a job because it has been a full time task.

  • Kimberly B.
    Kimberly B.

    Give more examples on the cover letters please. Thanks for you time

  • Zakia A.
    Zakia A.

    please give some examples


    Someone said that looking for a job has become an ordeal. I agree, I wish I could get paid for looking for a job because I feel that this has become my job, looking for a job.

  • Margaret L.
    Margaret L.

    Great advice! I, too would appreciate examples

  • Raza J.
    Raza J.

    Those are some great tips! Thank you

  • PAUL C.
    PAUL C.

    Excellent advice-keep it short-I was a busy supervisor so no more than 3 paragraphs. Be direct from the start as to how you can make a measurable difference without sounding like your the greatest as those individuals rarely workout on second impression. Use parallels with your experience and the job description and tailor the letter to each individual job posting. You're going to have to use several cover letters-that the pain in the ass part-it's not like the good old days.

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