How to Write a Cover Letter

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Cover Letters

In a world of emails and text messages and Snapchats, we don’t write many letters. Indeed, the only people I write letters to these days are my grandma and Members of Congress, as well as the occasional handwritten holiday card. So it’s no wonder that writing a cover letter feels hard–it’s not something we get to practice much.

So what is a cover letter, anyway? What’s the point? Doesn’t your resume just speak for itself? Well, yes and no. Your resume is important, But while a well-crafted resume tells a prospective employer a lot about you, it can’t convey everything! It’s an opportunity to show your prospective employer that you’re more than just a number. Because you’re not going to stand out just by having good grades or a cool internship (though those don’t hurt).

People hire others based on their qualifications, naturally, but they also want to hire people who will fit with their company culture and who are, well, interesting. If you do it right, you can convey all of this in your cover letter and have your prospective employer excited to interview you.

Here are some general principles for writing a winning cover letter:
 

Don’t summarize your resume.

The point of a cover letter is to show your prospective employer things they can’t learn from reading your resume. It’s tempting to make your cover letter a “letter” version of your resume, but don’t do it. You’re showing that you’re lazy and uncreative, as well as missing out on a chance to show off your writing skills and personality.

Include the hiring manager’s name if possible.

You won’t always know who will be reading your application. But if you can find the name of the hiring manager or other person that will be reviewing it, include it in the letter’s salutation (the “Dear PERSON’S NAME” part at the beginning). It’s a nice touch that shows you can do research and are personable.

Use the appropriate tone.

Take a look at how the company presents themselves in the job posting and on their website/social media. What themes stand out? Do they give off a hip, youthful vibe? Or more of a traditional, dependable one? I’m not saying that you should be fake, but you should try to mirror the company’s general “attitude” in your cover letter. This shows the hiring manager (even if it’s on a subconscious level) that you “get” what the company is about.

Cover letters don’t have to be scary. As long as you follow the principles outlined in this article, you’ll be sitting down for the interview in no time. Remember: a human being is on the other end of that job application–write a cover letter that shows that you are also human, and you’ll be on your way!

What to include in your Cover Letter!

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