While a great resume is essential to catching a staffing manager’s attention, you can make it stand out even better with a well-written cover letter. It’s an opportunity to further impress them in ways that your resume can’t. But what does a great cover letter look like? The perfect one should at least have the following four elements:

Why You Want the Job

You may think that just submitting a resume is enough to let employers know you’re interested in the position. However, in a cover letter, you can specifically state the reasons why you want the job. What is it that makes this company stand out to you? What excites you about the possibility to do the job they’re asking for? It may require doing more research but it's worth it. By making it clear as to why you want to be hired shows the hiring manager that you’re a serious applicant and you’ve done your homework.

Show Off Your Skills

The cover letter gives you the opportunity to say how your skills can be a great asset to the company. There’s no need to rehash what’s already on your resume, though. Instead, highlight a specific skill you have and how it can contribute to the company’s goals. If you’re applying to a plumbing job and you were able to diagnose and repair a major piping problem outside of your project scope at your last assignment, talk about that. If you’re a carpenter with a lot of experience in residential work and the job is for a housing developer, be sure to mention that. You can also talk about any accomplishments you’ve made in your career as well as what you would specifically be able to do for this employer if hired.

Make it Personal

Instead of creating one generic cover letter for all the jobs you’re applying for, take the time to make each one personal and specific to the open position. Include details from the job description when highlighting your skills. Address it to whoever the hiring manager is instead of using “To Whom It May Concern”. The letter itself doesn’t have to be so formal either. Feel free to show off a bit of your personality so the employer can get a sense of who you are as a person as well as a worker.

A Strong Closing

Just as you would at the end of an interview, how you close the letter is just as important as how you start it. You can thank the recruiter for the opportunity to apply and breifly why you would be a great asset to the company. The last paragraph is also a good place to include your contact information as well.

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