Lisa Pitts

7 Steps to Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

With over 3.8 million Americans projected to graduate from college in 2019-2020, the competition for jobs is fierce.

According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are now the largest generation in the United States labor force. As of 2017, over 35% or 56 million people in the U.S. workforce are millennials. This number surpasses the 53 million Gen Xers and 41 million Baby Boomers who make up the rest of the country's labor force.

“7 Steps to Writing the Perfect Cover Letter“

With so many Americans vying for jobs, putting your best foot forward is the key. That's where your cover letter comes in.

A cover letter is basically your introductory letter, and is usually attached to a resume or curriculum vitae. For some hiring managers, this is the most important part of the application. It's a great opportunity for you to showcase your capabilities and encourage prospective employers to hire you. If you're looking for tips on how to write the perfect cover letter that may just land you the job, then check out the short list below.

Do Your Research

Remember, Human Resources managers go through dozens if not hundreds of applications a day, which is why it's important to show that you're serious about applying. Try to include points about the company's history and work, and discuss what it is about the company that made you want to apply. In the case of job hunting, a little bit of research can take you a long way.

Discuss Relevant Experience

You may have a long list of extracurricular activities or part-time jobs that you can list down in your resume, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're all relevant to the work you're applying for. Be concise about your work experience and educational history, and highlight the skills that you think will be relevant to the job.

Look for a Specific Addressee

When sending in your cover letter, it's important to look for a specific person in the company that you can send your letter to. It shows that you've done your research, and will probably help your resume get to where it needs to go. You can address your letter to the head of Human Resources, or a manager in the department you're applying to. If you need help finding out whom to address your cover letter to, websites like LinkedIn can be a helpful tool.

Communicate Your Strengths Properly

A Human Resources manager can go through lots of applications a day, so it's important that you convey your skills and strengths that are relevant to the position you're applying for. A post by Aviation Jobs on how to communicate properly with prospective employers states that you should exhibit clarity and purpose. It’s also important that you communicate clearly via the phone or email with potential employers, such as speaking clearly and confidently, creating a signature block on your emails, and making sure that your responses are timely and well thought out.

Pick a Clear and Easy-to-Read Format

While it can be tempting to spruce up your cover letter with fancy graphics and a complex layout, keeping it simple will have a greater impact. Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison recommends applying an easy-to-read format as it is more likely to be noticed by HR managers, so do away with the fancy layouts and let your work speak for itself.

Answer Relevant Questions

Every cover letter needs to get straight to the point, so make sure you answer relevant questions concisely. Harvard Extension School’s Linda Spencer says that cover letters need to answer two simple questions: 1) Why you're the right fit for the job? and 2) What value will you be adding to the conversation?

Proofread Your Work

Finally, the simplest but most effective thing you can do in order to get your cover letter through the door is to simply proofread your work before sending it out. A great cover letter should be free from typos, spelling, or formatting mistakes. Many a promising resume has been rejected due to a careless typo, so don't skimp on the grammar checks.

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