Monday, May 30, 2011

5 Tips to Writing Good Cover Letters

Writing a cover letter is one of those things that everyone is going to have to do at some point in their life.

Generally speaking, cover letters are used to apply for jobs or request information from professional organisations but they can also be used for a wide range of other reasons such as attempting to sell something to a potential customer.

Cover letters have become hugely important over the last few years as they are widely regarded as being the first thing that someone uses to form an impression of you or your company.

A good cover letter should strike up a friendly rapport with the reader while conveying yourself as a knowledgeable, educated and professional person ... and given the fact that a letter is only supposed to be three or four paragraphs long, that's not always an easy task.

With that in mind, we've come up with a few simple ideas that will hopefully help allow you to create a professional sounding letter to your target audience.

Do your research
Before you even think about what you want to say you in your letter, it's imperative that you do some background research into the person or company that you're writing to.

Not only does this show that you've taken the time to research your subject matter, but it ensures that your letter isn't mistaken for junk mail and therefore thrown into the bin.

Stick to the essentials
A cover letter is only supposed to consist of a few short paragraphs so don't be tempted to write a huge essay as your reader will get bored and never reach the end.

Instead, make sure your paragraphs contain your main couple of selling points and then use the rest of your words to encourage your reader to have a look at the more in-depth documentation that you have also enclosed.

Keep your language simple
So many cover letters are ruined by their authors using two or three words when one will do and generally thinking that long words make them sound more intelligent.

Your letter should be kept as clear and concise as possible so both of these practices should be avoided. It's imperative that your reader feels comfortable with your letter and has a full understanding of what you're saying.

Be sure to state what you want
Now this may seem like a silly point to make, but so many letters carry on for four paragraphs and then leave your prospect wondering what you want. This is particularly important if you're requesting some kind of information.

Therefore, use your final paragraph to spell out your reason for writing. If you're hoping for a job interview, then be sure to spell that out clearly ... and to emphasise the point further, leave your phone number/email and state that you're available from a particular date.

Read and re-read
I know you'll have heard this before, but checking and re-chcecking your final letter is vitally important. It should hopefully go without saying that your spelling needs to be spot on, but don't just rely on a spell checker. They won't always pick up the subtle difference between words like there "there" and "their" so go through things manually too.

Equally, get rid of any slang or colloquial expressions that you might have used - they don't show you in a very professional light - and ensure that any numbers (apart from dates and revenue figures) are written as words rather (i.e. "eight months" rather than "8 months").

About the Author: Chris Atllington

Chris has a rather unhealthy obsession with poorly written letters and bad grammar/punctuation.

He has set up the website to offer his thoughts on letter writing.

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