Tips for Writing an Effective Cover Letter

Why are cover letters so difficult for people? What makes a good cover letter, and how can you get yours to stand out?

Cover letters can be fun to write. There really aren’t many ‘rules’ to writing them so you can let your personality shine through. They allow you to positively present your skills, accomplishments, and credentials in a way that will encourage the reader to want to read even more about you (and then move on to the resume).

Here are some easy tips to remember when writing your cover letter:

  • Make sure you state your intention. In other words, what is the job you are applying for? Clearly state it. Don’t make the reader guess. You could say something like, “…and this is why my qualifications make me a perfect match for the Clinical Informatics position.”
  • Showcase your top achievements. Don’t repeat everything you wrote in the resume, just summarize some of your top accomplishments. Wow them with what you have done.
  • Don’t forget your relevant skills or qualifications. Let the reader know what you excel at, what you are capable of, and what your brand is (what you are known for). This is a great place to talk about any extra credentials or training you’ve had that relate to the position.
  • Write toward the position you are applying for. When preparing the cover letter, keep in mind the requirements of the position and add your qualifications that match them.
  • Tell them why you like their company. This is your first attempt to woo the company, so tell them what you like about them. Is it the reputation, products/services, company culture? Let them know why you chose them (“I really need a job” doesn’t work here). “I’ve been following SmithHealth’s rapid growth and expansion for some time and am excited to be considered for the Clinical Implementation Specialist position”
  • Remember, you are NOT writing your autobiography. Keep it short, simple and factual. You don’t need to go into why your old didn’t work out, “…my boss had unrealistic expectations of the staff, so I decided to check out my options…” Don’t air your dirty laundry or obvious dislike of your most recent employer. Keep it professional.
  • Go through and double check the entire document for accuracy, errors, and syntax. You don’t want to miss a great opportunity because you wrote, “Dear Hiring Manger”.

You may even want to save that cover letter, copy and paste it onto a new document, and tweak it for another type of position you may be interested in.  I encourage clients to have several “focused” cover letters for different positions they might have in mind. This way, if an opportunity presents itself, you are ready!

About the author


Erin Kennedy

Erin Kennedy, CPRW, CERW, BS/HR, is a Certified Professional Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of nine best-selling career books.