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7 Tips for Writing a Cover Letter that Stands Out

When you’re applying for jobs, you have a lot to do – updating your resume, filling out applications, and writing a killer cover letter. While your resume outlines your experience, a cover letter can communicate your enthusiasm for the position and explain how your previous experience has prepared you for this job. When you’re writing your next cover letter, keep these seven tips in mind.

1. Address the hiring manager

Nobody likes to read a letter that starts with, “To Whom It May Concern.” It’s a huge sign that you don’t know who you’re talking to, you don’t care who you’re writing to, and you didn’t put much effort into finding out who would be reading your letter.

Try as hard as you can to find out the name of the hiring manager or the person in HR who will be reviewing resumes and job applications. Look on the company’s website, call the receptionist, check the company’s LinkedIn page, or ask someone who already works at the company. That way, you can start your letter on a more personal note.

2. Communicate your enthusiasm

There are plenty of reasons you might need a new job – maybe you need a steady paycheck because or wallet is getting too thin or you’re miserable in your current position and need a change. You don’t have to get into all that in your cover letter.

Instead, discuss why you want this job in particular. Share how excited you are about the opportunity and provide any pertinent details that could show your level of enthusiasm. For example, if you’re applying for a purchasing coordinator position, talk about how your favorite class in college was Supply Chain Management, and you’ve been looking for a chance to use the skills you learned in that class.

3. Connect with the company

Make a personal connection with the company. If you know someone who works at the company already, considering mentioning. Name dropping isn’t always a bad thing.

If you don’t know anyone at the company, explain why you connect with their mission statement. When the hiring manager reads what the company’s mission means to you, they’ll feel like you’re already part of their company culture.

4. Provide examples

Too often, people just regurgitate their resume in their cover letter. Instead, provide examples. If you listed a particular skill in your resume, share how you’ve used that skill or how you will use it in this position. Read also: Take Control of Your Own Career Development

5. Address any problems

Your cover letter is also a great place to address any potential red flags on your resume. If there’s something in your work history that might cause the hiring manager to think twice about scheduling an interview with you, address the problem head-on and explain why it’s not really a problem. For example, if you had a large gap between jobs, explain why.

If you haven’t updated your resume lately, make sure to do so before applying for your dream job. Learn more about how to easily update your resume.

6. Adjust your tone

The tone of your cover letter will depend on the company. You can get clues about how traditional the business is in their job ad. For example, if the posting was casual, feel free to be a little more laidback in your cover letter. If the ad mentioned that the company participates in a sports league, say that you’d be a great addition to their kickball team.

7. Keep it short

The person reading your cover letter, resume, and application has a lot to do, so try to make their job easier. Don’t write a four-page essay explaining why you’re the right person for the job. Instead, keep your cover letter as short as possible. Stick to two or three paragraphs and try never to write more than one page.