How to Put Together a Cover Letter

by Terry Mulligan

A well-written cover letter can mean the difference between getting your resume read or dropped into the rejection pile. Give your job search added power by creating a cover letter than commands attention and motivates your prospective employer to pick up the phone and call you to schedule an interview.

Put a Name on It

A cover letter addressed to "Whom It May Concern" or "Hiring Manager" shows a lack of interest and initiative. Every cover letter should be addressed to an appropriate company representative. Take the time to call and ask for the hiring manager's name or research the company website for the executives listed in your area of expertise. A personally addressed cover letter gets read far more often than one with a generic opening.

Keep It Short

A cover letter is only intended to get the reader to flip over to your resume. Keep your cover letter to a single page with the date and your address at the top, followed by the company address, then get right to the point. State what job you're applying for and any referrals you may have, then launch into your best qualifications.

Customize It

Although you want to refrain from repeating your entire resume in the cover letter, it's imperative to include your best qualifications as they relate directly to the job opening. Read the job posting and use key words from it. Give an example of what you've done that proves you can do the job and why they should hire you.

Ask for an Interview

A cover letter is a sales tool. You're selling yourself to a potential employer, so don't neglect to ask the employer to take action. In your closing paragraph, give them your telephone number and tell them you look forward to hearing from them. Follow up and call within the next week to ask when you can schedule an interview.

Make It Flawless

Even the best candidate can sabotage her chances for an interview with a poorly written cover letter. Make sure your cover letter is free from typographical errors, bad grammar or spelling errors. Read it multiple times. Put it away for a day and read it again with a fresh set of eyes. Give it to your family or friends for one last check.

About the Author

Terry Mulligan has been writing since 2007. As an accomplished artist, decorator and business professional, she enjoys covering art, decor, business management, real estate, education, computers/software/ERP, animal rescue, cooking and self-improvement. Mulligan holds an M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix.

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