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Writing Flawless Cover Letters

Targeted Cover Letters Lead to Interviews & Job Offers

If you believe that using the same generic cover letter for each job you apply to will land you a job, you need a reality check. Targeted cover letters are the only way to successfully get a potential employer's attention and get your foot in the door for an interview.  More »

3 Ways the Cover Letter Helps You Make Your Case

The cover letter doesn't get a lot of respect. It has a hard time pleasing everyone who writes about the job search. It's been called everything from useless to a ball and chain that can only hurt your chances at landing the job. But here are three reasons it can help you land the job.  More »

Have a Referral? Drop Their Name in Your Cover Letter

It's not what you know, but who you know, right? If you know someone who works for a company you're applying to, don't be afraid to mention their name in your cover letter. Many businesses encourage and reward employees for referring job candidates, so it could benefit both of you. Just make sure to find out the proper procedures for employee referrals and follow them carefully. Here are some other guidelines to being an effective name-dropper.  More »

How to Find a Name for Your Cover Letter Greeting

It's best to address a cover letter to the hiring manager by name. But employers rarely give explicit submission instructions, such as: Email your resume and cover letter to Mr. Manny McManager. If you don't know the recipient's name, here's how to find it.  More »

5 Basic Cover Letter Questions Answered

What is a cover letter and why do you need one? Get the answers to these and other basic questions about this very important and misunderstood job seeker tool.  More »

2 Tiny Cover Letter Errors That Cause Big Trouble

Like job seekers, bloggers often reach out and network with each other. Just this week, The Pongo Blog received an inquiry from a potential guest blogger. Her message started with a nice compliment and referred to one of our recent posts. So far, so good. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that this particular piece of flattery was less-than-sincere. A similar error in a cover letter could cost you the job.  More »

New Letter Template Helps You Decline a Job Offer

When you're job hunting, all you really want is a job offer. Sometimes, the hunt can take so long that getting an offer seems impossible. But one of these days, you're going to find a company that loves you and wants to add you to their payroll. If you're really, really lucky, you might even get more than one job offer at the same time! That's when you'll need this letter template.  More »

Your Cover Letter Should be Assertive, Not Obnoxious

If you've read some of our previous blog posts on cover letters, you likely have a clear picture of how your cover letter works with your resume to market your skills and qualifications. Note that I said market, not sell. Your aim is to be assertive about your skills and qualifications, not obnoxious.  More »

13 Cover Letter Do's and Don'ts

Cover letters can be the deciding factor between getting called for an interview or being passed up for another candidate who submitted something better. To make sure your cover letter helps you land the interview, keep these do's and don'ts in mind when you're writing.  More »

Submit a Cover Letter, Whether You Need It or Not

The cover letter sometimes gets a bad rap as an unnecessary document. Some bloggers in the career space even go so far as to suggest not submitting one because hiring managers won't read it. But, whether they read it or not, the strange thing is that many hiring managers will disqualify you if you don't send a cover letter.  More »

Sometimes Your Cover Letter's Just Gotta Say WTF

If you haven't already, you'll reach a point in your job search where you think your head will explode if you have to face one more cycle of applying, interviewing, and getting rejected. That's when you need to remind yourself of the immortal line from the movie Risky Business: Sometimes you just gotta say what the f---!  More »

Opening Lines: Let Your Cover Letter Drive Your Resume

Have you ever thought about the effectiveness of the front page of a newspaper or the cover of a magazine? Or how about Jay Leno's show-opening monologue, or the first sentence from the President's State of the Union speech? An effective cover letter serves a similar purpose.  More »

Why You Should Never Copy a Sample Cover Letter

If you've never written a cover letter, or struggled when you've tried to write one, I wouldn't be surprised if you've searched for cover letter samples to copy and use as your own. This is a common approach, but NEWS FLASH: You're not the only one who thought it'd be a good idea. In other words, you risk handing in a cover letter the employer has seen before. I'm not saying you should never borrow from someone else's cover letter; I'm saying you shouldn't copy a sample letter verbatim.  More »

Take it from HR: One Typo Can Kill Your Chances

You can't know whether the person you're emailing will or won't dump you because of a typo on your resume or cover letter. But you can be sure that most job openings are going to attract a lot of applicants, and the folks on the receiving end are going to need some way to make the pool smaller. That's why you have to make sure your resume and cover letter are perfect every time.  More »

Make the Cover Letter Your Secret Weapon

How do I stand out among all those other candidates for the job? It's a question I hear a lot lately. With an average of six candidates for every job opening in the United States, it's hard to know how to get employers to notice you. Everyone is looking for that special trick or magic codeword.  More »

Quick Cover Letter Tip: Add LinkedIn Recommendations

Glowing recommendations in your LinkedIn profile can be a huge help in proving your value as an employee, but they're pretty much useless if employers don't take the time to look you up. So why not call attention to them by adding one to your cover letter? It's a great way to make your case for the job. Here's how.  More »

What to Say in Your Cover Letter

No matter how much advice is out there, a lot of job seekers still seem baffled by the concept of using cover letters. They wonder if they really need a cover letter (yes); if it should just repeat what's in the resume (no); if it has to be customized for every job (yes), and how long it should be (1 page max). But the burning question, the one that really seems to gets people's knickers in a twist, is: What should I say in my cover letter?  More »

When and How to Name-Drop in Your Cover Letter

All the career pros say it's not what you know, but who you know. There's no real scientific proof of that concept, but experience tells us they're right. So if you know someone who works for a company you're applying to, don't be afraid to mention their name in your cover letter. Here are some guidelines to being an effective name-dropper.  More »

3 Ways to Address Salary in Your Cover Letter

Salary is such a delicate part of every job search. You want the job but you don't want to work for free, and you don't want to take a pay cut if you don't have to. So if you find a job ad that requests salary requirements, how do you address it in your cover letter? Here are three options.  More »

Coming Soon to a Cover Letter Near You!

When you go to the movies, you always see previews of the coming attractions. The goal, of course, is to make each member of the audience whisper to their companion, Ooh, that looks good. I can't wait to see the movie! In career terms, your cover letter is the preview and your resume is the movie.  More »

How to Write a Cover Letter to a Recruiter

Writing a cover letter to an employer is a lot different from writing one to a recruiter. You want to grab the reader's attention in both, but the type of information you include can vary greatly. Here's a chart to help identify the differences between a letter addressed directly to an employer, and a letter to a recruiter.  More »

Write a Targeted Cover Letter for Every Job

There's no getting around it. You need to include a targeted cover letter if you're applying for a specific job (form letters won't cut it). As the name implies, a targeted cover letter speaks directly to the job you're interested in, using words and phrases that match the job description. Thus, no two targeted cover letters should ever be exactly the same. It's a pain in the butt to tweak your letter for every new job application, but it's also one of the best ways to show you're willing to put in the extra effort to do it right.  More »

3 Tips to Avoid a Boring, Self-Absorbed Cover Letter

When you meet someone new, it's not always easy to strike up a conversation, especially if you focus only on yourself. Self-absorption is a big turn-off. The trick is to find something of mutual interest and see how far it takes you. If your knowledge matches their interests, and vice versa, it could be the start of a great friendship. The same theory applies to writing your cover letter.  More »

Survey Says: No Salary Requirements in Cover Letter

As a rule, you should not mention salary in a cover letter. You'll have more negotiating power after you've had a chance to communicate your value in an interview. In other words, if they don't ask, don't tell. But what if they DO ask? A couple weeks ago, we launched a poll to find out how our readers would handle this situation. The results might surprise you!  More »

7 Experts Offer Their No. 1 Cover Letter Tip

The cover letter is a crucial lead-in to your resume that allows you to communicate directly with the employer about your skills and background. But some cover letters fall flat, and we have our theories why. But we asked authors of other career- and job search-related blogs for their top cover letter tips. Here they are.  More »

Straight Talk about Writing Cover Letters

It's easy to find resources that teach you the best practices for writing cover letters. You can find several right here on this blog, more in our Learning Center, and plenty of others on the web. But I'm not sure it will be any more helpful than hearing these somewhat harsh words from Blaine Hilton, a business owner and hiring manager who tells it like it is regarding cover letters. In his Blaine-on-Business blog, he gives a 9-point reality check that might make you rethink the way you've been writing your letters.  More »

Write Cold-Contact Cover Letters to Warm Up Employers

A sales rep looking for new customers will likely resort to making out-of-the-blue cold calls. Likewise, a job seeker can use a cold contact cover letter, which pitches your qualifications to a prospective employer (or recruiter) that has no advertised job openings. Here's how you can put one together.  More »

How to Email Your Cover Letter the Right Way

The topic for this post came straight from a former co-worker who recently went through the whole job-search process. She wanted to know what the best subject line for an email in response to a job ad is, and if you should attach the cover letter to the email or copy and paste it into the body. I did the research, and here are the answers.  More »

Reports of the Cover Letter's Demise Are 86% Wrong

There's no question that the emergence of the personal computer and stratospheric rise of the Internet have forever altered the world of the job search. A mere two decades ago, for instance, a job seeker used one or two generic resumes to apply to several openings. Today, the recommended practice is a customized resume for each position. There are even some who go as far to suggest that all this technology has made the cover letter an anachronism. Don't believe it for even a nanosecond.  More »

Write a Real Cover Letter, Not Just a Resume Rehash

I'm always surprised when I hear recruiters or career experts say the cover letter is dead. I'm sure there are some companies that don't want cover letters, but most still do. I suspect the biggest reason people try to get out of writing a cover letter is that they don't know what to write. ( I already put everything in my resume! What else can I say? ) Here are four tips for writing a standout cover letter that will invite hiring managers to read your resume, without rehashing every detail.  More »

Quiz: Are You Smarter Than a Spell Checker?

Why are typos so common on resumes and cover letters? At least in part, it's because we think spell checkers are more effective than they are. Some career pundits will tell you not to worry about typos, but you and I both know that's silly. Any error is a strike against you, and the hiring manager may have a one-strike-and-you're-out policy. Spell checkers are good at spotting real spelling errors, but they're no help if your typo happens to be a real word. Do you think you're smarter than a spell checker? Take this quick quiz and find out!  More »

6 Reasons You Won't Get Hired Without a Cover Letter

From demonstrating your communication skills to keeping the follow-up ball in your court, a cover letter can strengthen your candidacy and increase your odds of landing an interview. Here are 6 valid reasons why a cover letter is absolutely necessary.  More »

5 Ways to Screw Up Your Cover Letter Greeting

You probably think the greeting of your cover letter (the Dear... line) is pretty simple. After all, it has only four little parts: the Dear, the Title, the Last Name, and the Colon [:]. How can you screw that up? Ah, we have our ways. In fact, there are at least five common mistakes people make in their cover letter greetings.  More »

Coming Soon to a Cover Letter Near You

When you go to the movies, they always show previews of the coming attractions. The goal, of course, is to make each member of the audience whisper to their companion, Ooh, that looks good. I can't wait to see the movie! In career terms, your cover letter is the preview and your resume is the movie.  More »
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