Rising To The Top Of The Pile

Looking for a new job is a process everyone dreads—the overwhelming posts on internet job boards, the frenzied cross-town sprint to make it from one interview to the next, the anxious nail-biting as you wait for that one phone call that might change your life forever. Without a doubt, though, writing a cover letter has got to be the most agonizing part of the process, one that’s definitely worse than getting a root canal but slightly (and only very slightly) better than a trip to the DMV. However, when your job application is but one in a pile of a thousand others, your cover letter is the first and often only chance you’ll get to differentiate yourself from the masses and impress your potential employer. Check out some of our tips for writing a good cover letter below—they’ll make the task a lot less daunting and will hopefully nab you that job you’ve been after for months.

  • Avoid using “To Whom It May Concern.” Most employers who see this salutation will probably just crumple up your application and toss it in the trash. Dig a little deeper—poke around on their website to find out who’s the head of the department you’re applying for. If you come up with nothing, play it safe and opt for “Re: Account Executive Position at XYZ Agency.”
  •  Grab the reader’s attention. You should use the first paragraph to concisely introduce yourself and establish what position it is you’re applying for. Consider this an opportune moment to tap into that explosively creative mind of yours and avoid clichéd openers like, “Please consider me for the position of Interactive Marketing Intern.” You want a line that’s really going to make the employer sit up, take notice and ache to meet this person whose personality literally pops out from the page.
  •  Make it clear why you’re right for the job. The second paragraph is all about selling yourself. Talk about the duties you’ve had at previous jobs and how they directly relate to the new position. Worried that your prospective big city boss won’t see how your time as a college-town barista has anything to do with advertising and marketing? This is your chance to explain in detail how that job totally taught you the ability to multi-task and perform well under pressure.
  • Don’t forget to say “thank you.” Your final paragraph should be brief—refer to any attached documents, say you’d love to meet for an interview and thank the reader for taking the time to consider you for the position.
  • Proofread. No matter what the job, superb writing skills are a must. Nothing says, “My writing skills are awesome and I’m perfect for this job!” like a big, fat typo in your cover letter so just take a few extra minutes to make sure everything makes sense and that there are no spelling or grammar errors, obviously.
  • Don’t repeat your resume. The purpose of a cover letter is to complement your resume, not duplicate it. They already know you graduated from an Ivy League school with a 4.0 GPA—now’s the time to tell them how this particular experience will help you succeed in the position you’re applying for.