Notepad and pen on wooden background and text concept

How to Format Your Cover Letter

Notepad and pen on wooden background and text conceptWhile a resume takes you backwards, a cover letter takes you forwards, and is a very important piece of your career management marketing collateral. Although not read by as many as your resume, never miss out on the opportunity to parade your skills, and the compelling reasons this company should employ you.

A cover letter is not a duplication of your resume. It can speak to certain elements and success stories, but one of the benefits of the English language is that there are so many different ways to say the same thing.

This one-page, succinct and seductive document is always written in the first person. Let’s look at some of the other important elements of an effective cover letter.

A cardinal sin of personal branding is to utilize a different heading style and font between your resume and cover letter. Instead, use consistent headings across all the pieces of your marketing collateral.

Your cover letter should include the same contact information that appears on your resume: Your name, followed by your degrees, designations and certificates; full residential address; phone number, email, customized LinkedIn address, and Skype address.

Ensure all of these details are clearly formatted, and typo-free. One wrong digit on your phone number could cost you that important call for a job interview.

Do not lead off with “Dear Sir or Madam,” or “To Whom it May Concern.” Try to find out the name of the hiring manager before sending. This little gesture in itself sharpens your competitive edge.

I suggest that your cover letter encompasses no more than four tight, resounding and memorable paragraphs. In the first paragraph, be clear about what you are applying for, and deliver a powerful message that you are the perfect candidate for that position.

In the second paragraph, expand on the reasons why you should be called for an interview and considered the premier candidate. If you are replying to an advert, it is important to include some of the pertinent keywords from the posting. Be clear, be precise, and be engaging. This paragraph also affords you the opportunity to extract and reword some of the STAR stories pertinent to the job.

In the third paragraph, show your commitment and intrigue for the company by highlighting some research you have found through your due diligence.

In the fourth paragraph, wrap up this document with the reason why you are looking for a new appointment. This will be obvious if you are in career transition, but not if you are gainfully employed. Highlight something to the effect that you are ambitious, actively seeking your next challenge, and leaving no stone unturned in a confidential job search.

End the cover letter with a call to action: “I am eager to meet with you in person to further discuss how I intend on successfully fulfilling this interesting mandate. May we schedule an interview?”

Finally, thank them for their time and consideration, closing with “Sincerely,” and signing your name.

Use your next cover letter as a way to highlight your suitability for the appointment, and ensure you reach the interview stage of the hiring process.

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