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When it comes to applying for a job, having a well-crafted resume is essential. It exemplifies your education, experience, and abilities. However, the addition of a strong cover letter can provide further support for why you are a great match for the position. Some companies require a cover letter from applicants while others make it optional. Just like your resume, your cover letter should be a professional representation of what you have to offer.

Use a Similar Format

When writing your cover letter, use a similar format as your resume. This will help to tie things together and make a more cohesive package. Use the same header for both documents as well as the same font. Stick with something traditional such as Times New Roman or Calibri, which are easy to read and look professional. Keep the length to no more than one page. Your cover letter is a targeted overview of your qualifications, not a rehashing of your entire resume.

Start by Identifying Yourself – Professionally

No, this does not mean your first sentence should include, “My name is …” Open with an introduction to who you are professionally. Whether you are a marketing professional, an electrical engineer, or a business management specialist, show the hiring manager briefly what your background is and a few key competencies that support your experience. This one to two sentence opening should position you as a qualified match for the opening.

Clearly State the Position You Are Applying for

End the opening paragraph with identifying the name of the company and exactly what position you are applying for. While this may seem obvious, it can help the hiring manager to focus on how the applicant and the position align, especially if they are reviewing applications for multiple openings.

Highlight Three Key Qualifications

While your resume will detail your overall experience, your cover letter should hone in on three key skills that align with the job requirements. Carefully read over the job description and pick out your main strengths that support your candidacy. Perhaps you are great at project management and that is something they are looking for. This is your chance to concisely elaborate on that specific skill and your abilities.

Use bullet points for more emphasis and to keep things clean and easier to read. Expand on each point in one or two sentences. Each time you apply for a job, tailor what is highlighted to the specific opening. While there may be overlap between positions, this is where you can really show that you are strong match and can support the employer’s needs.

Be Assertive In Your Closing

Close out your cover letter by once again expressing your interest and letting the hiring manager know that you look forward to further discussing how you can benefit the company. Avoid coming on too aggressively, however. Make sure that the contact information in your header is accurate and provides the most effective way for an employer to reach you.

Spelling and Grammar Matter

As with any professional document, you want make sure that your cover letter is free from spelling and grammar errors. Have someone else read over it to catch anything you may have missed. Silly mistakes can harm your chances of landing the job.