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Writing A Winning Cover Letter

As with format, you’ll hear a range of opinions on what constitutes a strong cover letter.  In fact, many hiring managers view the cover letter as a writing sample.  Can this candidate write clearly and form thoughts in concise, easily read paragraphs?  Because the person who first reads the letter is most likely to be in a screening mode, a two- or three-paragraph letter is generally recommended.  Review your letter repeatedly for grammatical correctness and to ensure no typos appear. 

Open the letter by specifying the position for which you are applying, perhaps noting how you became aware of it.  Next, introduce your resume and state briefly why you are interested in the opportunity.  You should note any commonality with the organization, its industry or profession, or the nature of the position.  The cover letter is also the place to note any need for confidentiality.  Refrain from attempts at humor and familiarity.

In the closing paragraph, thank the reviewer for taking the time to read the resume and to consider your interest and candidacy.  Indicate that you will call in a few days to follow up.  It is useful to specify the best method for contacting you.

The whole idea of the cover letter is to transmit and introduce your resume quickly and in a way that promotes a positive expectation in the mind of the reviewer.  In other words, it should show you write well; have a clear sense of the position and a reason to be interested in it; and are sufficiently confident to let your experience, skills, and accomplishments speak for themselves.

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