Five Tips for Writing an Effective Cover Letter

Many job seekers hire professional resume writers to create a dazzling (and expensive) account of their professional accomplishments, qualifications, and experience, but when they email it to a prospective employer, they write something like this:

Dear Mr. Johnson,
Attached please see my resume.
Regards,
Unlikely to be hired
A cover letter is an applicant’s opportunity to really connect with the hiring manager or screener who, according to a study by CareerBuilder.com, spends an average of 6-7 seconds scanning resumes.

A cover letter is an applicant’s opportunity to connect with the hiring manager or screener who, according to a study by CareerBuilder.com, will spend an average of only six or seven seconds scanning your resume. And that’s why your cover letter is so important.

It introduces you, explains your purpose for writing, and highlights a few relevant experiences or skills. Also, it gives you the opportunity to ask for a personal meeting with the employers, which is critical to getting hired.

By writing a cover letter, you’re demonstrating your professional writing skills and seizing the opportunity to emphasize the information you choose, rather than letting a six-second scan of your resume speak for you.

Before you write, it’s crucial that you put yourself in the position of the hiring manager and reflect on which of your strengths are most important for them to see — i.e., what they will value most. While you don’t want to come across as arrogant, it is helpful to sound confident.

These five tips can help you write a winning cover letter:

  1. Always limit your cover letter to one page. Be clear and concise.
  2. Match the employer’s needs to your skills, focusing on needs the employer listed in their job posting. If they need a technician who does A, B, and C, don’t expound about your experience with X, Y, and Z.
  3. Use action verbs and the active voice. These convey confidence, optimism, and enthusiasm. Couple these with respect and professionalism in your tone.
  4. Arrange the letter in a sequence of points that are laid out in a logical order.
  5. End the letter with a conclusion, thank the employer, and ask for an appointment to meet in person.

It is important to note that the same CareerBuilder study found that 61% of recruiters will automatically dismiss a resume because it or the accompanying cover letter contains typographical or grammatical errors.

What can you do about that?

You can ask your friends for help and use a spell-checker, of course. But for something this important, you might consider Wordzen, a service that provides professional editors 24/7 to wordsmith your cover letter. Wordzen’s talented editors have a lot of experience improving and strengthening cover letters so that yours is more than grammatically correct — it’s also confident, clear, and persuasive.

Wordzen is easy to use. All you need is a Gmail account and the Chrome browser. You can sign up by visiting www.wordzen.com and, while you may not need any instructions, there’s a simple how-to video here. Note, Wordzen is a paid service, but there is a free trial for new users.

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