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Cover Your Agenda: Writing an Effective Cover Letter

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

Woman typing on laptop

It may be that in debuting a new workshop about cover letters called Covering Your Agenda, I have noticed a lot more articles about cover letters lately, have you?  What is also surprising is how cover letters, like resumes, have changed in the last decade.  If you haven’t had to search for work in a while, or you’re not getting far in the interview process, here are some key aspects of the cover letter you may not have realized:

  • They set the stage.  They seem outdated but that is only because you didn’t realize you’re now writing it as an email.  If it’s not required – which is a test to see if you follow directions and to weed out insincere job seekers – sending one in with your resume will set you apart.
  • They greet so don’t address To Whom It May Concern because Ms. Concern doesn’t work there.  Find out who is hiring and write it to them.  This will not only also set you apart, it will ensure that someone takes responsibility for evaluating your application.
  • They’re not about you, they’re about what you can do for the person reading it, so make sure you address their questions and concerns about your fit for the role.
  • They create opportunity.  A confident letter properly addressed and ending with a call to action is more likely to earn you a phone screen or interview than anything else.

Woman seated at table in front out wall of greenery while writing in a notebook

If you need a formula for writing an effective cover letter here is my suggestion:

  • Open with an attention-getting statement and introduction about who you are and what you’re applying for.
  • Outline why you believe you’re a good fit for the role.
  • Explain why you’re interested in this particular job at this particular company.
  • Thank them for the time and consideration and give a call to action that will help motivate them to call you.

Blank notebook This formula so will help provide some structure to all the things you want to say to your next employer, and if handled properly, you could end up with four times the amount of interview offers you got before, so what’s on your agenda?

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