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How to Write a Great Cover Letter

When you’re applying for jobs, your cover letter can be the determining factor in whether you hear nothing from an employer or whether you get called for an interview. And yet job seekers regularly give their cover letters short shrift — writing deadly dull missives that make hiring managers’ eyes glaze over or using them simply to summarize their resumes.

A cover letter alone isn’t likely to get you a job if you’re woefully underqualified, but if you’re one in a sea of similarly qualified candidates, a great cover letter can be what spurs an employer to pull your resume out of the stack and call you. That’s because people are more than just their work experience. They have personalities, motivations, habits and other reasons they’d be great at a particular job that aren’t always easily seen from a resume. A good letter will demonstrate those things and pique a hiring manager’s interest in a way that a boring form letter won’t.

[See: 10 Ways to Perfect Your Personal Brand.]

Here’s how you can write a strong, compelling cover letter that will make employers want to interview you.

1. First and foremost, don’t summarize your resume. This is the most common approach people take when writing about their career in a cover letter, and it does them an incredible disservice. Think about it: When you apply for a job, you have just a few pages to show why you’d excel at the position. Why would you squander a whole page just repeating what’s in the rest of your application materials? Instead, your cover letter should add something new to your candidacy.

2. Use your cover letter to share information that doesn’t go on your resume, like personal traits, work habits, why you’d excel at the job and maybe even a reference to feedback from a previous manager. For example, maybe the position requires an unusual degree of meticulousness and you frequently get teased for being obsessive about details. That’s information that wouldn’t be found on your resume, but it can go in your cover…

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