A cover letter is your first impression to a potential employer. Rather than a courtesy, it is a chance to impress. As the first thing employers read, it should summarize who you are, a little background, and what you can bring to the table. Cover letters are the bait of the application process and will draw in potential employers if done correctly.

Be Professional

The quality of your cover letter tells employers a lot. Your attention to detail, communication skills, spelling and grammar, and word choice all signal whether you are professional or not. Having friends or family members proofread and critique your cover letter is a good way to ensure your cover letter meets the highest standards.

Use structure

Short, concise sentences are key for a well-written cover letter. The length should be somewhere around three to four paragraphs and no longer than a page. Be sure to organize your cover letter in a way that flows and is easy to read. A paragraph detailing your interest in the role followed by a paragraph about why your skills and qualifications will help the company and a paragraph thanking the reader for consideration typically works as a good guideline. These are the main points you want to touch on in the letter.

Make it Tailored to each job

Since every job has different requirements, cover letters should be written to be specific to a job. This means including experience and skills relevant only to the position at hand. This also includes using proper greetings in the letter and specifying the position you are interested in. If you have reviewed the job posting and description carefully, you should be able to include relevant examples as to why you will excel in the position. Employers will know if you are one of those people sending the same cover letter to 5 companies.

Show why you’re a good fit

Including job-specific skills, such as computer program certifications for an IT Job, are also a great way to prove that you can excel in a specific position. Transferable skills that apply to specific jobs should also always be included. Employers love transferable skills and will be even more thrilled if you have skills that apply to the job up for grabs.

Be Positive (and Thankful!)

Lastly, cover letters should always be written with a positive attitude or tone. You should be eager to share your qualifications with a potential employer. Including lines such as “I look forward to hearing from you” and “do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions” show the reader of your cover letter that you are extremely interested in the job and are ready to move forward. Finishing off by thanking the reader for their time and consideration is always a good idea too. These few simple lines will make your cover letter the best it can be.