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Tips for Writing a Standout Cover Letter

Part of the Cover Letters For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Your goal when writing a cover letter is to attract interest and get employers to read your resume. These five qualities define a standout cover letter- a cover letter and resume that land in the short stack of keepers and not the discard pile -so incorporate them into your writing:

  • Write in vigorous, vibrant, and animated language that persuades rather than sedates. Use attention-nabbing opens to grab the reader by the eyeglasses and hang on tight.

  • Use an action close (say you'll call) to position yourself for a positive follow-up. You lose face when you ask readers to call and they don't. "I didn't hear from you so, well . . . uh . . . ah . . . um." Note: An action close works in most circumstances, but not all; you wouldn't apply to become the White House chief of staff and tell the president you'll call to set up an interview.

  • Address your letters to individuals. Use names. Make an intense effort to find the name, correct job title, and address of the human being who will receive your letter.

  • Bait your letters with marketable skills and other benefits you bring to employers. Convince them that you have something they need and want.

  • Use postscripts to dramatize some bit of information too tantalizing for readers to ignore.

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