A successful cover letter should be specific and personal. It should be clean, neat laser copy, yet not mass generated. Each letter should refer to a specific person at a specific company and provide a specific next step that you will be taking.
A basic formula for cover letters is as follows:
- Standard business letter format – prospect name, title, company, and address – top left.
- Salutation (yes, it should be to a real person – take time to know who your target is).
- 1st paragraph – state your objective(s), i.e. applying for a specific position.
- 2nd paragraph – state two or three top skills, then follow with benefit(s) that you will provide to the company.
- 3rd paragraph – Give your target contact a specific action to take, i.e. contact you at his/her earliest convenience.
Use this checklist to ensure that your cover letter is complete:
- One page only and limited to three targeted paragraphs
- With full spell & grammar check twice
- Written to someone specific, with the name and title spelled correctly
- Company name and address are correct and complete
- Three focused paragraphs (focused on the reader’s needs, not yours)
- Closes with “Sincerely,”- anything else can be too chummy
- Includes a P.S. for emphasis
- Final step: do not forget to follow up, or all the other steps will be in vain!
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