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by Vault Careers | October 31, 2011


As many job seekers focus on constructing the perfect resume in order to highlight their work experience as effectively as possible, it is equally important to write an attention grabbing cover letter that will persuade potential employers that their credentials deserve careful review.

Be precise. Resume write and career coach Roni Noland said a well-written cover letter should include information about how the job seeker found out about the position, for example, "John Doe suggested I contact you," or "I am applying to the position of X through a listing on your website." If a candidate knows the exact name of the hiring manager, the cover letter should always be addressed directly to that person.

Include brief list of skills.  The second paragraph should contain a sentence or two about the candidate's qualifications as they pertain to the company and include that the job seeker knows about the organization and job opening.

Avoid pitfalls.  Some common mistakes job seekers make when writing a cover letter include adding too much information such as their age or gender. Similar to a resume, a cover letter should never be a carbon copy of other letters sent to prospective employers. Each letter should be customized to let the hiring manger the candidate is interested in a specific job opening.

Resume expert and former recruiter Laura Smith-Proulx said that job seekers should never begin every sentence in a cover letter with "I," the letter needs to also be about the needs of the company, not just the candidate.

Reverse the situation.  Smith-Proulx said that one of the best ways for job seekers can state their case more succinctly is to ask themselves "why should we hire you?," and come up with five reasons that can be summarized with bullet points. Candidates should think of these reasons as the most relevant section of their cover letter, which will provide a quick snap shot of his or hers most relevant qualifications.

Format correctly.  A cover letter should be in the proper business format with the appropriate salutations and closings, along with the job seeker's full name and telephone number. The cover letter and resume should also match in font and style.

Open ended closing.  In closing, the cover letter should end with an open ended request for either a meeting or follow-up phone call, as well as stress that the job seeker is looking forward to hearing from the company soon in order to set up an interview.

--Published Courtesy of Brafton