Guest post: Tips for a powerful cover letter

While all job applicants are familiar with the usefulness of a good resume, many do not fully understand the potential of well-crafted cover letter. A great cover letter reinforces your experience and key skills, conveys your passion to work for a particular employer, demonstrates how you can be an asset to an organization, and, most importantly, helps you stand out from the crowd.

To help you prepare an impressive cover letter that does all this and much more, here are a few important cover letter writing tips:

1. Know your employer

The first thing you must do is research your potential employer. Use the company’s website and other sources to learn as much as you can about the company. Next, use this information to create a cover letter that addresses firm’s needs appropriately.

2. Don’t use a generic salutation

“To Whom It May Concern” and “Dear Sir/Madam” qualify as generic salutations. Never begin your cover letter with such generic salutations as they give the impression that you are not proactive enough to find out the name of the hiring manager. In case the name of the recruiter is not mentioned in the job listing, call up the company and ask the receptionist to share this information with you.

3. Use a strong opening line

There is a distinction between a strong opening line and a cute opening line, and it is important you maintain this distinction when formatting a cover letter. The former adds value to your cover letter, whereas the latter can appear insincere and stilted. Needless to say, choose a strong opening line over a cute introduction, like “Team workmanship is synonymous to my name” or “Perseverance is my middle name”.

4. Expand on your resume

Do not repeat what is on your resume, rather expand on it. Highlight key skills and achievements that resonate with client’s needs. For example, in case you are submitting your resume for a position of manager, describe in the body of your cover letter how you increased the revenue of your department by 25% in just six months.

5. Be proactive

You can demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job by being proactive. Close your cover letter by stating when you will contact the recruiter to follow up on your application. At the same time, do not omit your email address, phone number, or any other information that the recruiter would need should he/she decides to contact you.

6. Do not jump ahead of yourself

You should not talk about salary and other such things in your cover letter. These things are meant to be discussed over a personal interview.

7. Proofread

Reread your document, at least twice, before sending. You may also consider asking a friend or a family member to proofread the document after you have reread it.

8. Keep the cover letter short and don’t forget the format

A cover letter should not be more than a few paragraphs. So, ensure that you keep the document short. When applying via email, ensure that you remove all types of formatting enhancements and send the file as a plain text file. In case you don’t want to send the cover letter as an attachment, past it into the body of your email.


Author bio:

Erik Larson is a master’s level career counselor and an internationally certified as a Career Management Practitioner (CMP) by the Institute for Career Certification International. He was also recognized as a National Certified Counselor (NCC) through the National Board for Certified Counselors. You can check out his site at