How to Write a Better Cover Letter

How to Advance Your Career

Although a good résumé may open the door to your next position, you might not be invited to step through it unless you also have a good cover letter. The secret to writing one, according to author Arnie Fertig?

"Don't just claim to be able to do such and such, but rather describe how or why it is a passion of yours and how you've mastered it," Fertig writes in an article for U.S. News & World Report.

Consider, for example, what you might say if you're applying for a position, and the job description calls for someone with "experience supervising teams and mentoring individuals."

"In your cover letter," Fertig continues, "you can say something to the effect of: 'In my last two positions at Company A and Company B, the teams that I led all excelled and earned recognition in the form of corporate awards and promotions for key players. I'm particularly proud that people I've mentored have demonstrated improved performance in the areas of x, y, and z. In turn, they've taken it upon themselves to mentor other more junior members of our team."

Or, consider an office manager position for which the job description reads, "Seeking proactive office manager able to juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities in a fast-paced environment."

"In response to the employer's need," Fertig says, "you might respond specifically in your cover letter: 'In my last office manager role I upgraded the record keeping and billing systems gaining faster reimbursement from insurance companies, while at the same time I prepared departmental payroll, oversaw the grant writer and scheduler, and prepared financial, statistical, and other reports for the department head. This kind of environment exhilarates me because I'm not tied to a specific routine and can utilize my wide-ranging skills.'"

Simply put: When writing your cover letter, "show" instead of "tell."

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