Writing a Winning Cover Letter

Cover letters are usually attached along with your resume, serving as an introduction of yourself to potential employers. Nowadays, many companies prefer cover letters to be sent through e-mail.

The strength of your writing would mean the difference between a shot at an interview or a trip to the paper shredder. Presenting your personality to potential employers through the cover letter is just as important as listing your skills and accomplishments in your resume, and creating a great first impression is vital.

If you want your cover letter to stand out among the clutter, here are what you should consider:

Send it to a specific person – Addressing your cover letter as "To whom it may concern" shows you have little knowledge or interest in the company. You can either call the company or check out its website so you could find out who would most likely read your application. Ask for the correct spelling of that person’s name, as well as his or her title.

Use your connections – If you know people who personally know the people at a place you want to work, it is best to ask for a referral. Start your cover letter as, "Our mutual friend (insert the name here) thought I should e-mail you," in order to create a sense of familiarity for the receiver of your cover letter and would most likely be giving your application a second look.

Stay relevant and brief – Describe in your cover letter the most recent accomplishment you’ve had and relate it to the job you want. Try including new information about yourself rather than repeating what you have written in your resume.

Keep your goal in mind – Be specific about what job you want in the company and why you would be a strong addition in the organization. This requires thorough research about the company by looking at its website, newspapers, annual reports, trade publications, etc. Find out what the company needs and describe how you can help.

End with a call of action – Ask the employer to call or e-mail you back instead of writing that you would follow up with them. However, you should still follow up either by calling or e-mailing within a week of sending your letter and resume.

Proofread – Double-check the letter for errors before sending it. Also make sure to send the cover letter to the right person, especially if you are applying for multiple companies. Check that you have correctly addressed the letter and have included the correct company name and job position. Scan the letter thoroughly for spelling errors and grammar problems. Finally, if you are sending your resume through e-mail, don’t forget to attach it before send it.

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