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Live Careers Cover Letter

Let’s be honest: almost no one likes writing cover letters. As a result, most cover letters are boring, generic, and poorly done. There’s a lot to get right when learning how to write a cover letter, and when you do get it right, you greatly improve your chances of standing out in a pool of applicants, and hopefully, snagging an interview. Read on and and pick up cover letter tips that will show you how to write one that will transforms your job search.

Cover Letter Tips: The Basics

A cover letter has a single goal: to pique the interest of a recruiter or hiring manager, and make them want to continue on with the reading of your attached resume. Learning how to write a cover letter means you get a chance to tell your story—about where you’ve been, where you hope to go, and what you’ve done in other positions that will allow you to flourish in the role you’re applying for.

Even though your cover letter will contain information that’s on your resume, it should not be a reiteration of your resume. While it should focus on relevant accomplishments, use the cover letter to showcase your personality and the skills that specifically apply to the position. A cover letter should be much shorter than a resume, and have a conversational (yet professional) tone.

Your cover letter also has another purpose: to show that you can fit in with the company culture. Your industry—and your research of the targeted company’s culture—will dictate how far you can go with taking creative chances with a cover letter (for example, colored fonts). In creative fields, you can take a few more risks, but in conservative fields (think finance), you need to keep it straight and simple. Classic cover letter fonts to consider using include Times New Roman, Arial, and Cambria. You need to make your cover letter easily readable; using a font like Bauhaus 93 won’t accomplish that goal! Let’s look at some basic cover letter tips to keep in mind when sitting down to write.

Cover Letter Tips: Common Mistakes

Bad email subject line

David Ogilvy, the “Father of Advertising,” famously said:

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.

This is just as true if you replace “headline” with “cover letter email subject line.” If you are sending a cover letter via email, the cover letter can’t achieve its goal if the recipient doesn’t even open it!

I once surveyed dozens of recruiters for the most effective email subject lines—the ones that convinced them to quickly open the cover letter email, and there were two trends: either a direct mention of a resume for an intended position, or a clever, curiosity-building line that hooked the reader in.

Over-reliance on a standard cover letter

Most people have a standard cover letter that they use for each position they apply to. Unfortunately, employers and recruiters can spot generic letters from a mile away. This is one of the many reasons why you must school yourself in how to write a cover letter! A generic, one-size-fits-all cover letter is one of the surest ways for your application to end up in a wastebasket.

While it’s okay to have a cover letter template to start with, you must personalize/customize each cover letter to the job you’re applying to. This is one of the crucial cover letter tips! For example, do whatever it takes to avoid using the opening salutation “To whom it may concern” by instead researching (via LinkedIn) the hiring manager’s name, or the department head’s name.

A boring read

Sadly, most cover letters are boring. You want to get the hiring manager’s attention, not put him or her to sleep! This is one of the key cover letter tips to keep in mind. You don’t need to tell jokes in your cover letter, or print it on neon paper, but do make sure that it is readable, and relates to real information that they care about—in particular, what you can bring to the role, and what you can do to do to help the company succeed. If the job description asks a question—like what’s your proudest career accomplishment—answer it. Show that you read the job description, and show that you put real thought into your cover letter.

Cover Letter Tips for Transforming Your Job Search

Use the Job Description as a Guide

Luckily, almost every job comes with a guide regarding what to cover in the cover letter: the job description. Read it carefully, and then write a cover letter that is a direct response to the description, addressing the key requirements listed. Focus on the requirements that you can tie directly to past or present job experiences.

Talk about Why You Chose the Company

If there is a specific reason you want to work for this company or organization, make note of that in your cover letter, especially if it is particularly compelling or original. Just don’t go overboard: your application should ultimately focus on how the employer will benefit from you, not how you will benefit from your employer.

Talk about Your Relevant Skills

This has been touched on already, but one of the most important things you must do when learning how to write a cover letter is write about the skills you have in your arsenal, how they tie to the job, and how they will help you succeed in the job. Since you can’t just reiterate what’s in your resume, go deep on one or more of your skills, and write about how you became a better employee—how you learned something new about yourself and what you’re capable of, and how that helped you grow. Tell a compelling, interesting, relevant story, and you’re bound to make the cover letter reader sit up and take notice.

Cover Letter Tips on Length

Cover letter length is something that many novices get wrong when learning how to write a cover letter. Experts agree you should try to keep your cover letter to around 3-4 paragraphs, tops. Recruiters and hiring managers have many, many cover letters to read—most on an almost-daily basis—and do not have time to read novel-length cover letters. Keep your cover letter succinct and to-the-point so that it can quickly communicate that you’re right for the job.

Try to think of your cover letter as being an asset to your application rather than a silly requirement. Learning how to write a cover letter can transform your job search by getting you noticed. Hopefully, all the cover letter tips we’ve profiled have given you the ammo you need to write a stand-out, five-star cover letter!

LiveCareer has several tools to help you get on the right path. Get some inspiration by taking a look at the cover letter examples from a wide variety of fields. Then, try the cover letter builder to create a cover letter that could transform your job search! LiveCareer also has a terrific article dedicated entirely to how to write the first paragraph of your cover letter. Check it out!

About the Author
Jacob Share

Jacob Share is a job search expert and the founder of the award-winning JobMob. With over 12 million visitors since 2007, JobMob is one of the most popular job search blogs online, containing straight-talking advice and humor based on Jacob's real-world experiences of finding jobs in the U.S., Canada, France, and Israel. Become a free JobMob Insider to gain access to exclusive job search resources that have been downloaded thousands of times.

Some employers consider cover letters tiebreakers that can act as the deciding factor when evaluating similar candidates, others turn to them to get more insight into which applicants have done their company research, and still more look to these as a necessary step in the jobseeker vetting process.

Accordingly, a strong cover letter that tells your story and drives home your unique value is still critical to a successful job search. However, knowing that you need a cover letter and actually creating a well-written, compelling document is a completely different story.

That’s why we’ve created over 300 professional cover letter templates for your reference. Regardless of your experience level, industry, and career path, you’ll be able to find cover letter examples and samples that suit your needs. And if you do need more assistance, use LiveCareer’s Cover Letter Builder to quickly and easily create your own stand out document.

Data Entry: Cover Letter Template

To land a job in data entry, you will not only need to highlight your computer database skills in your resume, but also tell your story in a great cover letter. To make the most of the cover letter as a tool for success, check out our data entry cover letter template here. It will help you format your document properly and decide what to include.

Your opening lines should explain your skill level and what you can contribute to the work environment. Back this up with clear examples of how your education and accomplishments satisfy the requirements of the job description, emphasizing skills like analysis and reporting. Close by sharing the unique characteristics you can bring to the team and expressing your enthusiasm for the opportunity.

Executive Assistant: Cover Letter Template

To advance your career as an executive assistant, you’ll want to take the time to write an outstanding cover letter for each job application. For inspiration on what to include, as well as how to format it, use our executive assistant cover letter template as a strategic reference point.

While your resume lists the main attributes you need for the job, like organization and verbal communication, your cover letter should explain how you’ve developed these skills over time. The more concrete and specific, the better. It’s also important to express why you’re interested in working at the company, as well as any unique characteristics you can bring to the table.

Office Assistant: Cover Letter Template

Getting an office assistant job requires some effort beyond listing concrete skills in your resume. You’ll need to prove that you are well-organized and a good communicator by writing a strong cover letter. We recommend using an office assistant cover letter template, like ours, as inspiration for what this might look like.

Your cover letter may be the first thing that an employer reads, so include an overview of your top qualifications right at the beginning. Then, highlight some specifics that give the reader an idea of how you might perform on the job. Don’t forget to detail why this particular job and company is appealing, and restate the unique qualities you have to offer.

Secretary: Cover Letter Template

Creating a polished cover letter is a relatively simple exercise that can pay big dividends as you seek that next position as a secretary. Our secretary cover letter template is a great tool to see how you might illustrate your candidacy as a professional. From content to formatting, we’ve got you covered.

Begin by summarizing the most significant skills you have to offer, like customer service and organization. Then name one or two notable accomplishments to focus on. Give details about your chosen accomplishments and tie them back to the requirements in the job description. Last, talk about this particular company would benefit from your efforts.

Legal Assistant: Cover Letter Template

When pursuing legal assistant jobs, your cover letter is a great tool to give your application a boost. It can help make a personal connection with prospective employers. Use a legal assistant cover letter template like ours to ensure that your letter has the right elements.

While there are many things you could include in your cover letter, you’ll want to start off with a compelling hook. This gives the reader a reason to learn more about you as an outstanding law professional. Focus on concrete accomplishments and skills, like drafting documents, to describe your past experience. And make sure to stay on topic – provide the employer with some reasons why you are a good fit for this specific job and company.

Actor: Cover Letter Template

In competitive fields like acting, writing a stellar cover letter can really help you land interviews and auditions. Creativity is welcome here, but it’s a good idea to follow an actor cover letter template like ours to get inspiration for what to say – and how to say it.

Beyond your acting reel and the qualifications listed in your resume, the cover letter gives you a chance to tell your story in greater depth. Choose one or two stand-out accomplishments and give specifics about how those experiences make you a good fit for this next role. Finally, give the director, producer, or casting agent a clear idea of why you want to work specifically with them on a given project. This helps establish a personal connection with your application.

Accounting Assistant: Cover Letter Template

Crafting a well-written cover letter will enhance your candidacy for accounting assistant jobs. It’s a great tool for showcasing your qualifications for a job in a deeper, more personalized manner than a resume. Work with this accounting assistant cover letter template for inspiration.

The key here is to balance tangible details about your experience with a more holistic picture of how you fit into the role at hand. Start with a strong hook or summary statement, and expand your argument with a couple of notable skills or accomplishments. Be sure to discuss some clear reasons why this company, in particular, could benefit from your contributions.

Product Manager: Cover Letter Template

When vying for a product manager role, your cover letter is a great tool to showcase your strength in organizing information. Employers will be looking for reasons like this to bring you in for an interview and learn more about you. Consult our product manager cover letter template here to see what a well-crafted letter might look like.

Contrary to the more cut-and-dry resume, your cover letter should act as a more narrative version of your qualifications and how you fit into the role you’re after. Choose a few skills or accomplishments that illustrate exactly what you can contribute to the company. Don’t forget to cater these points directly to this role and company, as detailed in the job description.

Police Officer: Cover Letter Template

As you apply for police officer jobs, a well-crafted cover letter is key to getting interviews. This is your chance to elaborate beyond the simple bullet points in your resume. Reference a police officer cover letter template, like the one here, when deciding what to include.

While there are many things you can say, make your cover letter as concise and cohesive as possible. Get to the point right away, and choose only two or three key traits or achievements to illustrate your strength as a candidate. These could even be intangibles like strong presence of mind and interpersonal communication. Make sure that your particular interest in the division you’re applying to is evident.

Store Manager: Cover Letter Template

When applying for store manager jobs, you should write a cover letter that plays to your strengths and expertise. While many recruiters and hiring leaders may admit that they forego reading this document, most still expect you to provide this with your application. Not to mention, a well-written cover letter can set you apart from other candidates with a similar resume.

When it comes to creating this document, treat your cover letter like a one-page story about why you are an excellent candidate for the job. Focus on making a couple of key points about how your skills and past work experiences fit well into this particular role and company. Be specific about how you have demonstrated management ability in the past, and apply that directly to your interest in this new position.

Assistant Teacher: Cover Letter Template

To land a job as an assistant teacher, use your cover letter as a way to establish a sense of connection with prospective employers. You’ll want to be super clear and to the point about why you are a strong candidate for the job. To see what this looks like in practice, check out our assistant teacher cover letter template.

Employers should be able to take away a few key points from your letter that make you stand out. Be specific about your contributions in a previous job and how you see this experience benefitting the school where you’re applying. Since you’ll need to gain students’ trust and respect, showcasing your leadership ability is vital. And don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through.

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