Four Rules of Cover Letter Writing
Here are four key rules of cover letter writing:
Rule #1 - CUSTOMIZE: Make sure you take the time to customize
your cover letter to fit the employer's requirements. Before you start
the writing process, review the criteria for the position and make a
list of what the employer wants. This list might include specific areas
of expertise, years of experience, technical knowledge, transferable
skills and personality traits. Then, incorporate these items into your
letter, demonstrating by example that you have the desired
qualifications. (Obviously you'll have to balance space limitations
and readability as you go.)
Rule #2 - MEET THEIR NEEDS: Write the cover letter with the
employer's needs in mind - not your own. In other words, don't describe
what YOU want, but explain what you can do for the employer.
Don't assume that the employer will read between the lines of your
r�sum� and dig out the relevant information. They won't. To get their
attention, you have to actively describe how you can meet their needs.
Rule #3 - ACTIVELY SELL YOURSELF: Tell them WHY they should
hire you. Be assertive about your qualifications without being
egotistical. The tone of your letter should be professional, but sound
as if a real person wrote it - in other words, not too pretentious or
formal. One way to judge your letter is to read it out loud. Do you trip
over the words? Does it sound like an attorney wrote it? If so, work on
it until it flows naturally and has a conversational tone.
Rule #4 - KEEP IT SIMPLE: No matter how sophisticated your
r�sum� looks, I recommend that you set your letter up in a typewriter
typestyle like COURIER or ELITE. Use a simple block format with left
flush margins and ragged right margins, since that looks most like a
letter typed on a typewriter. Your cover letter will generate a better
response if it LOOKS like it was individually typed rather than
computer-generated. Most cover letters should be limited to one page,
preferably 3-5 paragraphs with 1" margins all around.