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As a complement to your resume, your cover letter distinguishes you from other candidates and introduces you as the best person for an employer to hire. It’s an opportunity to specifically relate your qualifications to the position and to describe your passion for the job and the hiring organization.

Here are some tips for creating cover letters that set you apart from the competition:

Personalization
Customize your cover letter to the job, the organization and the corporate culture. Be sure it portrays your individual personality, creativity and interests as they relate to the position.

  • Focus on the company and its needs. Then show how you can help meet them.
  • Strike the right tone. No two companies are alike. Learn as much as you can about your prospective employer and reflect their culture in your cover letter. For instance, if an organization is more formal, be sure your letter has a similar feel.
  • Address it to a real person. If you don’t know the HR or hiring manager’s name, do a Google search and find it. This further demonstrates your initiative and interest in the company.

Brevity
A cover letter should approximately three paragraphs long. Here’s your chance to show off your strong communication skills along with other key qualifications.

  • Hiring managers spend about 10 seconds reviewing each cover letter. So keep your message concise and compelling. In a recent survey, 44 percent of employers agreed that half a page was the ideal cover letter length. Only 12 percent expected to see a full page.
  • Have an introductory paragraph, a summary of qualifications, and a wrap up. Your summary paragraph should include two or three qualities the company wants in a candidate. Try and glean these from the job description or posting and support them with specific examples from your past.

Tell Your Success Story
As you craft your cover letter, stay away from standard statements such as “Attached is my resume in response to your job posting for a quality control manager.” Use bold verbiage that immediately catches the reader’s eye. A better opening might be, “Are you seeking a results-oriented professional with proven success in leading teams to sustained quality improvement?”

  • Use statistics to support your statements. Instead of “experienced at managing preventive maintenance programs,” say “headed a 15-person preventive maintenance team that succeeded in reducing machine downtime by 25 percent in a six-week period.”

Finish Strong
Be sure your cover letter is easily readable and accessible. Make every word count, right down to your closing line and signature.

  • Send it as a PDF. Virtually every computer can open this format without a time-consuming file conversion that also may result in a formatting error.
  • Conclude with a follow-up message. Let your prospective employer know your plan for following up via telephone, email or another appropriate means.
  • Proofread, proofread and proofread again. Do so yourself and then have someone else do it as well. There is absolutely no room for error in your cover letter.

A professional career coach from Alternative Staffing can work with you to perfect your cover letter, resume and other tools for your successful job search. Contact us today.

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