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5 tips for writing a cover letter

A cover letter complements your resume, serving as an opportunity for you to provide additional context for your resume information and go into more detail about why you are a good fit for the role. However, writing a cover letter can be challenging – it needs to impress employers by reinforcing your skills and qualifications without simply repeating what’s on your resume.

Fortunately, these five tips will help you write a cover letter that is professional, compelling, and helps you score interviews.

1. Format Your Cover Letter Properly

First, it’s important to format your cover letter like a business letter. In addition to the actual content of your letter, include a header with your name, contact information, and the date, followed by the recipient’s name and title (if you know those details), the company name, and the company address.

Use the same professional font, font size, and color scheme that you used for your resume to create a personal brand. Left-align your text, use single or 1.15 line spacing, and use the same margins that you used on your resume (0.5 to 1 inch margins).

2. Include Three Main Sections

Include three sections in your cover letter: your opening paragraph, an overview of your skills and background, and a closing paragraph.

In the opening paragraph, include the job title that you are applying for and how you found the job opening. Summarize why you are interested in working for the company and filling that position specifically, making it clear that you carefully read the job description and have done some research about the company.

In your second section, summarize your skills and experience as they relate specifically to the position that you are applying for. Highlight your most impressive achievements, including data and numbers to quantify them as much as possible. This section can be one to two paragraphs.

Wrap up your cover letter with a closing paragraph that summarizes why you are applying for the role and reiterating why you would be a great fit. Express your excitement about the position and confidence in your abilities.

3. Tailor Your Cover Letter

Rather than submitting a generic cover letter to every job that you apply for, take the time to customize your cover letter each time. While this takes a bit of extra effort, it shows employers that you are taking the job application process seriously. Mention the company and position title by name, use keywords from the job description, and select your most relevant skills and accomplishments to highlight for each position.

4. Keep It Short

Your cover letter should be about half a page to one full page in length. Keep the letter focused and succinct, as employers will be more likely to read the entire thing if it’s all relevant information.

5. Proofread Your Cover Letter Carefully

Finally, be sure to proofread your cover letter carefully before you submit it. Read it out loud to help yourself identify run-on or awkward sentences, and check each word and sentence for errors. You may even wish to enlist the help of a friend or family member to double-check your cover letter.

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