Ask Vicki: What are the steps to writing a perfect cover letter?
In this answer on Quora, Monster career expert Vicki Salemi tells you how to create a great cover letter, one sentence at a time.
Each week, Monster’s career expert Vicki Salemi—a former recruiter who utilizes 15-plus years of experience in recruiting and human resources to empower job seekers—answers user questions on Quora. We’ll be republishing the answers here. If you have a question for Vicki, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. What are the steps to writing the perfect cover letter?
A. The perfect cover letter is formal and succinct, and it highlights an accomplishment and why you’re a great fit for the company. Review the job description to see what desired qualities the company is looking for, and address those directly.
A cover letter is not about why you want to work at the company; instead it’s about why the company should want to hire you. Assume you’re giving your elevator pitch answer to that question. The steps to writing a perfect cover letter include:
1. The salutation is very important. If you know the hiring manager’s name, definitely use it. If not, write “To whom it may concern” or “Dear employer.” Never—I repeat never—write “Dear sirs.” You’re assuming the reader is always a man, which is a big no-no.
2. In the body of your letter, reference the job you’re applying to in case your cover letter is separated from your resume. “I’m interested in applying to job #xhz sales associate in your Stamford office.”
3. Explain why you’re the quintessential fit for the job by highlighting your achievements. “Your ad indicated you’re looking for a rock star, so look no further! Last year I earned $2 million in sales and landed the top sales award in my company’s national organization. I live for this and look forward to possibly contributing my prowess to your organization, too.”
4. Your conclusion should be formal and appreciative. “Thank you for your time and consideration. I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon. Sincerely, xxxx.”
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