Welcome to this five-part series on writing cover letters

Ack. Job hunting. Nobody likes it. Unless you have family or friends to make connections for you, you are fighting an uphill battle.  The best thing you can do is arm yourself with knowledge. Knowledge is power.

We live in a digital age. Some may wonder if we still need cover letters. Not sending a cover letter, makes you look a little lazy. If a hiring manager has two equal resumes side by side, the resume with the cover letter will get the interview call.

Before you start writing, do your research. Research the company and the specific job that you want. Review the company’s website, twitter feeds, and executive profiles on LinkedIn. Try to read beyond the job description. If you know the company’s challenges, you can write a cover letter describing yourself as the solution. The research will also help you determine the tone of your letter. Are you writing to appeal to risk-taking creative company? Or are you trying to appeal to an ultra-conservative organization, like a bank?

The next step to take after researching the company, is to open strong. Typically, people churn out the usual, “I am applying to job Z that I saw on website X.” Don’t do this! Jump in with enthusiasm. Tell the hiring manager why the job is exciting to you and why you’re the right fit. The hiring lead is probably reading mountains of resumes. You need to stand out. Be direct. Be dynamic. But don’t tell any jokes. Humor can fall flat.

If you have a personal connection with the company or someone who works there, mention this in the first line or two. Always direct your letter to someone by name. With social media, you can find the name of the hiring manager.

NEXT STEPS:  Like, share, follow the blog. Come back next week to learn how to add personal value to cover letters.

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