Sell yourself to an employer with a well-written cover letter. If properly composed, it can compel hiring managers to read your resume and be your ticket to an interview. The key is making sure you match your background to the open position. You must also include certain words in your cover letter that jump out at the reader -- those that best summarize your skills, experience and education.
Use lots of action verbs when you write your cover letter, according to Quintessential Careers. Insert present-tense verbs when discussing your current position and past-tense verbs for previous jobs. For example, you could write, "As an administrative assistant, I screen calls for top executives and coordinate their meetings." If you held the job three years ago, write, "I proofread executive letters and maintained the company's filing system." Don't make your cover letter too lengthy -- keep it to one page, with a maximum of four paragraphs, says ABA Search and Staffing.
Words Showing Interest
Start the first paragraph of your cover letter with an expression of interest in the position. The word "apply" coupled with "like" can work effectively in your opening sentence. For example, "I would like to apply for the marketing manager position." Also, tell the reader where you first learned about the job. Companies like to know which sources generate the greatest responses. You can actually include your source as part of the initial sentence: "I would like to apply for the marketing manager position which you advertised in the "Daily Post." Subsequently, include the word "interest" in your second sentence: I am particularly interested in working for the XYZ company because of their high quality products."
Use the second and third paragraphs to sell your skills and experience. Tell the human resources or hiring manager why you are qualified for the position. This is best accomplished by including several skill-based words to summarize your background. Some examples are: wrote, designed, created, analyzed, built, developed, corresponded, scheduled and tabulated. Use skill-based words that are germane to your background. Keep your paragraphs limited to three sentences, and include one or two skill-based words per sentence.
If you have worked as a manager or director, include some administrative words in your cover letter to describe your background. Some of the main administrative verbs are managed, budgeted, projected, trained, appraised, supervised, collaborated, guided, allocated and interviewed. If you've worked with some trouble-makers, you may have "mediated" or "disciplined" their actions.
Match your background and talents to those required for the open position in the third paragraph of your cover letter. The best way to do this is by repeating certain "key-need" words that are listed in the ad or job description, according to the University of Washington. Use bold letters to highlight these words. Also, make sure you include all the "key-need" words from the ad. For example, if a company is looking for someone with specific word processing and presentation software experience, indicate that you have experience using those software packages mentioning their names specifically.
End your cover letter with closing words that summarize your background and ask for the interview. Three words to consider are "matches," "discuss" and "benefit." For example, you may write, "It appears that my experience matches those required for the systems administrator job. In the course of an interview, I would be pleased to discuss how my background could benefit your company."
- The Ladders: Getting Your Cover Letter Noticed
- Quintessential Careers: Job-Seeker Action Verbs
- Quintessential Careers: Cover Letter Do's and Don'ts
- University of Washington: Six Steps to a Great Cover Letter
- Purdue University: Action Words for Resumes and Cover Letters
- ABA Search and Staffing: The Four Paragraph Cover Letter
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