Posted on Oct. 22, 2015 at 3:30 p.m.
by Hayley Kilgo.
Ugh, the dreaded cover letter. Every time you sit down to write one, you probably browse online examples, become stressed and end up wanting to quit before you even start. It’s safe to say cover letters are one of the least favorite tasks to do before applying for a job or an internship. However, no matter how horrible writing a cover letter is — they are extremely important. A cover letter is a company’s first impression of you, so you want to make sure it’s perfect.
Here are a few tips on how to write a successful cover letter:
1. Research the company and its culture.
Taking the time to browse the company’s website and social media before you start to write your cover letter is a great way to get an idea of the company’s tone, language and culture. It’s very important that you take this first step because each cover letter should be individually tailored for each company you’re applying for. Never send the same cover letter to more than one company.
2. Don’t use “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To whom it may concern” in the salutation.
Always name someone who is at the company. If you can’t find the hiring manager’s name after searching on the company website or LinkedIn, give the organization a call to get a name. This extra step shows the company you did your research and that you care.
3. Don’t start the letter with your name.
Your first sentence is one you can guarantee the hiring manager will more than likely read, so make it engaging. Is the most interesting or important thing to start with just your name? Instead, try out some of these attention-grabbing lines.
4. Don’t repeat your résumé.
This is your chance to show your personality and provide more information than what you had to squeeze onto your one-page résumé. Use this opportunity to expand upon your résumé points and tell the reader what you can bring to the company. But keep in mind, when a hiring manager reads a cover letter, he or she wants to see what a potential employee would do for the company — not what the job would do for you.
5. Proofread, proofread, proofread.
Always read over your cover letter several times as well as have other people proofread it before sending. Also, do your best to avoid these 15 common language mistakes. The little details you think the hiring manager won’t care about can actually turn into the reason why you don’t get the job.
Overall, just remember to be yourself and have fun with it. Cover letters don’t exist simply to torture you; instead they are there to help you. So keep a positive mindset, follow these tips and get to writing — you’ll have some interviews lined up in no time.