Image by avanzero via stock.xchng

Stop right there! Don’t write that! 

It’s hard to know how to construct the perfect cover letter. Maybe there is no perfect cover letter. Maybe an email introduction is more your style. 

Whatever you call it, there must be a better way to achieve your goal — landing an interview.

The Salutation

The worst offender is the title of this post, but “Dear Sir or Madam” is not far behind. Your best practice is to try to find out the name of the person you are trying to contact, via the company website or LinkedIn. If that isn’t possible, “Dear Hiring Manager” is a better alternative.

The Opening

“I am writing in regard to…” They do know that. Effective use of the email subject line would give that away as well.

“Please accept this application…” This one is more polite, but still – they know why you are writing.

Your first paragraph is your “lede,” as they say in journalism. Start with why you contacted them. Something in your experience that makes you a candidate they should not miss.

The Body

Whether you talk about your experience or how you meet their requirements, be sure to use keywords from the job description in the meat of your cover letter. Limit yourself to 1 – 2 paragraphs with no more than 3 sentences each.

When writing via email, use bullet points, instead, to keep the email succinct.

The Closing

Be sure to thank the reader for their time and let them know when and how you will follow up. And then follow up.

The ideal cover letter is intriguing, to the point and not too long. Think of it like your elevator pitch. Your resume may never be seen if your cover letter doesn’t catch the hiring manager’s eye.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative