Five Tips for a Winning Cover Letter
Photo credit: Julia Sudnitskaya/Shutterstock.com

In the job search process, your cover letter is one of the first indicators of who you are and what you can do. A strong cover letter works in tandem with your CV or resume to paint a picture of why you are the perfect fit for the job you are interested in. But crafting a cover letter that showcases your talents in a way that stands out from the crowd is not always easy. As you get started on your story, here are a few things to consider:

Be brief

This isn’t the place to go into detail about every position you have ever held. Instead, pick two or three (at most) compelling examples from your work experience that demonstrate that you meet the requirements and key qualifications of the position you are applying for. Think of this as an opportunity to expand on your strongest experiences from your resume rather than regurgitate them.

Customize for different roles

A good cover letter isn’t one size fits all. While you can follow a general template or format, it’s important that your cover letter reflects the job to which you are applying. Whether it’s matching your experience to specific requirements or sharing your enthusiasm for a particular company, you want your interest to shine through to the hiring manager. Also, be sure to include the name of the hiring manager or HR manager at the company — this information is often available through a search online.

Leave clear contact details

By the time a recruiter or hiring manager gets to the end of your cover letter, it should be clear exactly how they can reach you if they are interested. Use the same header for your resume and cover letter to have your contact information front and center (think of it as a letterhead) and include contact information in the final paragraph of your letter.

Share important logistical details

When looking for jobs in the International Development sector, you may be drawn to positions in another state, country, or even continent. If you’re looking for a job that’s based outside of where you are, signify your willingness to relocate or travel so the recruiter has a more complete picture to work with.

Be prepared to follow up

For every position that is listed publicly, you can imagine how many submissions recruiters must receive. If you don’t hear back within two weeks, don’t be afraid to follow up with a call, an email, or a LinkedIn message. Again, keep this brief and to the point. Your goal is to remind the recruiter of who you are and draw attention back to your application. If between the time you submitted your application and your follow-up there are additional details that could support your application, this could provide an opportunity for you to share that.

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