Polishing Your Cover Letter

Your cover letter can mean the difference between landing an interview and having your application tossed into a rejection pile. While your resume is an outline of your greatest career accomplishments, experience and skills, the cover letter is your chance to truly introduce yourself to your potential interviewer. You can expand on your resume while highlighting your ability to communicate effectively through written word.

Like your resume, one of the easiest mistakes to avoid is spelling errors. Nothing turns off potential employers more — especially during the application stage — than gross spelling or grammatical errors.

While there are many spell-checkers online, even in common word-processing programs, beware that they won’t catch common spelling confusions such as transposing letters or homonyms. Advanced spelling/grammar checkers can help you out, but you’ll still need a dedicated eye to catch where you put “hear” instead of “here,” “fate” instead of “feat” and so on. Having another person read it over can help, as well, so call up that one friend who happens to be particularly skilled in the writing department.

Your cover letter should be professional-yet-personal, business-yet-casual. Don’t try to be funny and steer away from puns. Your letter should start out with a personal greeting (Tip: Make a call or research to find out the head of the department or human resources), offer relevant details about the position and introduce you in a professional manner.

Your cover letter shouldn’t just spell out your resume in paragraph format, it should, ideally, explain your resume and add to it. This is your opportunity to shine, so to speak, so do so. Explain any training you’ve gone through or special achievements. Like your resume, your cover letter is a tool in helping to sell yourself to your potential employer.

After you’ve written your cover letter, go over it with a fine-toothed comb. After you’ve read it, read it again. After that, have someone close to you read it and ask them for their honest opinion on your writing, mistakes and content. The cover letter needs to make an impact and is not an accessory to your resume, but a complementing partner to it.

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