Inside Secrets to Writing a Cover Letter

Inside Secrets to Writing a Cover Letter

In interviews with hiring managers and recruiters, many confess they don’t even look at the cover letter. If they do, they only glance at it for a few seconds. So the trick is to have a cover letter that quickly captures their attention.


A cover letter has only 1 real purpose and that is to get them to want to read your resume. The biggest mistake people make when writing a cover letter is writing one that is too long. They are trying to tell their story or repeating what is already in the resume. Imagine the poor recruiter with 1,000 resumes to review and now she picks up a cover letter that requires her reading a story. Her first instinct is to groan… not the reaction you want.

Make your cover short, easy to read and with a compelling message. Use lots of bullets and white space… no long paragraphs. If they advertised for certain key skills, mention you have them, but don’t write a book report. Most importantly, include a “teaser” that really gets their attention.

Here’s an obvious example. I recently wrote a resume for a former Microsoft executive who was 1 of 5 executives responsible for delivering Windows 95. How much more do you have to say than that to get someone’s attention? For sales people tell them how you delivered as much as 205% of quota.

Everyone has some standout achievement they can use to capture the reader’s attention. I can honestly say that in just about every resume I’ve written for clients (and that numbers in the thousands), I have been able to develop a knockout statement that gets an employer’s attention. Put yours in the cover letter and your resume will jump to the top of the pile.

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