Writing a cover letter for your dream job, but don’t know where to start? It’s a common problem. Many people are so intimidated by having to write a cover letter they skip it completely — which can be a mistake: It’s your first opportunity to make a stellar impression with anything but your resume, which can be dry.
Your cover letter has to be excellent to make a good impression. If you include these five elements in your letter, you’re almost guaranteed job-hunting success. Try it — play along as you read.
1. A compelling first line
Too many cover letters start with “I am pleased to submit my application for the marketing assistant job posted on your website,” which is a snooze-fest. Even “I’m excited to apply for your marketing assistant position” is about eight hundred times better because you sound like a human being.
If you want to go beyond “I’m excited to apply for…” you have a few options. Consider starting by dropping a name or with an anecdote (“If the Jell-O Wrestling Club’s latest match hadn’t ended with two injured contestants, it wouldn’t have been facing the biggest PR disaster of its short life. But now I had to fix it.”).
By the way, it’s helpful to include a name (as long as it’s spelled correctly — quadruple check this, please), but you don’t need one. “Dear hiring manager” is fine and preferable to “To whom it may concern” or “Dear sir or madam,” no matter what MS Office’s Clippy tells you.