What Makes a Good Cover Letter?

 

© Written By Jimmy Sweeney
President of CareerJimmy and Author of the new,
"Amazing Cover Letter Creator"

 

Good cover letters stand out from the crowd. Here's how...

Anyone looking for information about what makes a good cover letter is in serious risk of suffering from information overload. A quick search on the Internet is likely to show that there are hundreds, if not thousands of people out there that are willing to write a "good cover letter" for you or tell you how to do it.

Though it might be easy to get the impression that writing a good cover letter is a task best left to the professionals, that's not really the case. Anyone can write a pretty good cover letter, if they just follow some simple principles.

Good Cover Letters Must Stand Out!

First, the cover letter must GET NOTICED and BE READ by the Hiring Manager. This means that it must look clean and neat and professional, for starters. Secondly, it must start strong, and GRAB the reader's attention from the very first line. One way to do this is to start the letter with a headline like AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY: EXPERIENCED EDUCATOR. This lets the reader know immediately and undeniably what the letter will contain..

Once the attention has been gained, the good cover letter unwaveringly follows its single purpose, which is to SELL the applicant to the Hiring Manager to land the job interview. The secret to that is to make the case, clearly and logically that your experience and background makes you the best choice to fill their business needs, right now.

Given the choice, most managers would overwhelmingly choose someone that can come in and start solving their biggest problems right away. As they read the cover letter and the resume, this is the "filter" by which they evaluate the work history and list of credentials.

What a Good Cover Letter Says to the Employer

Naturally, to explain how you will meet the criteria required for the position being offered you will have do some research, so you actually KNOW instead of GUESS what those job elements are. This can be found on the Internet, or by asking someone that works in a similar position what sort of problems they are expected to solve on the job. Knowing exactly what the Hiring Manager is looking for and tailoring your letter to highlight that aspect of yourself makes you stand out like a beam of light in a dark stormy night to the average Hiring Manager.

You will also have to clearly lay out the link between those needs and your own experience solving similar problems in previous jobs. It's better to be too clear than to assume the hiring manager will make the connection on his or her own. Remember, you are writing one good cover letter and spending a large amount of time on it until it's a polished gem is smart work. By contrast, the Hiring Manager is reading dozens if not hundred of letters, and spending a couple of minutes or even a few seconds on each one.

A Good Cover Letter Finishes Strong, bad cover letters start weak and end up in the trash.

Lastly, a good cover letter ASKS the Hiring Manager to take the next step towards getting the job. Most of the time this next step is to CALL the candidate and schedule an interview. A lot of job seekers are too shy to come right out an ask for this. They don't want to seem "pushy" or "presumptuous."

However, at the end of the day, whether or not the cover letter got the interview is the only real characteristic of a good cover letter that really matters.


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