If you are planning a job search, you know one of the most important tasks is writing a resume and cover letter. Although some human resource people have questioned the need for cover letters, most career advisors agree it is still important and can help you sell yourself and land a job.

When writing a cover letter, you should use the job description as a guide. Your letter should focus on the skills that are listed in the description. And, naturally, you need to research the company for information and background to use in the letter. Here are a few tips from hiring managers on writing effective cover letters.

1. Do your research

If you begin the letter with “To Whom It May Concern,” you’re already in trouble. This shows the hiring manager that you didn’t even take the time to find out whom to send the letter to. You need to address the letter to a particular person. So find out who the hiring manager is.

2. Trim the filler

Don’t waste time by starting the letter with lines like, “I am writing this letter to let you know. . .” This is just a waste of space. You also don’t need to thank the hiring manager for his time. He or she is just doing his job.

3. Start fast, sell yourself

Dive right in with a first line that will capture the hiring manager’s attention. Tell how you increased sales or saved your company money or spurred some new innovation. Get right to it. Or choose something in the job description that caught your interest and begin with that.

If you are having difficulty getting started, just start writing whatever comes to mind, and continue doing that for ten or fifteen minutes. Much of what you write will be unusable, but in there you may find a sentence or two that captures just what you want to say.

4. Avoid lists, tell a story

Naturally, in the letter you want to highlight the skills that are in the job description. But you need to do more than just list them. If you simply say that you have skill A and skill B, you will sound like every other job candidate.

You need to give examples, to tell a story, of how you demonstrated your mastery of these skills.

5. Write a rough draft – or two or three

Your letter is not going to be perfect right out of the gate. That is why you need to write a rough draft or two. As you rewrite the letter, you will see how you can improve your language, sharpen your focus and make your letter more compelling.

Also, check your spelling and grammar. Any mistakes here may sink your chances of getting the job.

If you are looking to make a connection with a new job, Winston Resources can offer you the help and guidance you won’t find anywhere else. We get results, Give us a call today.

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