How to Write A Successful Cover Letter

How to write a successful cover letter ?

Take time to write a good original targeted cover letter for every application and proposal you submit. Whether the goal is to get funding, a job, a grant, a work benefit, a professional honor – whatever. A well-crafted cover letter is essential even if you are responding to specifications that say cover letters are not necessary. Exception: if the posting says, ‘absolutely no cover letters,’ don’t disobey. But review your résumé or the application form and look for ways to work in helpful information you might otherwise include in the cover letter.

Writing effective cover letters is tough but worth the trouble because:

Letters offer golden opportunities to personalize an interaction.

In most letters you are asking for something important to you and, if the initial process is conducted through writing, you must humanize your request.

Letters enable you to shine. 

A letter supplements what may be dry information if an application or proposal form gives you little room to present yourself as an individual.

Letters set up your reader to give your submission the perspective you choose. 

You can provide a context for your accomplishments, the point at what’s most relevant. Add depth to a noteworthy qualification, or create your desired tone.

The following sections show you how to organize and execute a cover letter that strengthens your application or proposal.

Planning a cover letter

Start by focusing on your goal. Often you need to go through a narrowing process. While your ultimate purpose may be to get a job or secure a contract, you rarely achieve this result from paperwork alone. At the first stage of competing for an opportunity, aim more realistically to survive the contest and be picked for further review.

Framing the goal this way helps you make good content choices. Consider the following question in brainstorming what to include in your letter.

  • What personal facets are you unable to include in the application that would strengthen your bid if brought to the reviewer’s attention?
  • Do you have any connection with your reader or the organization worth referring to– a common acquaintance or alma mater, for example?
  • What are the key qualifications and qualities the organization is looking for– and what are your best matching points?
  • Should your cover letter reflect the qualities the organization is seeking? For example, should you aim to demonstrate creativity or attention to detail in your letter?
  • Why do you want this opportunity? Can you say something genuine and positive about your motivation or what you plan to do if you are chosen?
  • Can you say something genuine and positive about the person or organization you are applying to? And why you think this is a good match?

Do Not

Never treat the cover letter as an afterthought. Most of your competitors invest all their energy into their proposals and tack on careless, perfunctory notes rather than letters. 

In more than a few cases, a bad cover note eliminates someone from the running because tired reviewers welcome the chance to ‘just say no’ to an applicant. Do not let this be your situation. The planning process gives you insights into how to stand out.

Ideally, you can use your planning to shape the content of two pieces of writing that supplement and reinforce each other – the cover letter and the résumé, application, or proposal itself. Consider your letter’s purpose and possibilities separately from the documents it accompanies. 

When practical, write the application or proposal first, and for the cover letter then draw on the thinking you worked out. You might deliberately bank an idea or two for the cover letter.

More Cover Letter Format

Related Examples :