How to write a great cover letter

Posted by Guest Contributor

10:00 AM

Skip the “Dear Sir or Madam” and zero in on exactly how you’re going to solve whatever problems the hiring company has.

By Lisa Vaas

Do hiring professionals even read cover letters for senior candidates anymore? Some say yes; some say no, they don’t bother unless the resume in question has grabbed their attention.


The simple answer is that you should assume your resume will merit a look at your cover letter; always include one (either as a separate document or an e-mail that acts as one); and make it exceptional, so you stand out from the crowd. TheLadders talked to hiring and career management professionals to find out exactly how a good cover letter is laid out and what it contains.

Dear who?

The salutation is your first chance to make contact with a hiring professional, but it’s one spot where laziness often wins out over due diligence. We’re talking about the “Dear Sir or Madam” approach. What this generic salutation says isn’t positive: Namely, that the author couldn’t be bothered to find out the hiring manager’s name.

Topics: Job Application, Cover Letter

Perfecting your cover letter to a "T"

Posted by Amanda Augustine

01:30 PM

Use the t-format to tailor your cover letters for each job application.


Many of you out there have asked me about cover letters. What do I say? What should I not say? Is there a general one I can use for all my applications? Is there a template you can give me? Do I really have to write one?

Here’s what I think. I’ve talked to a lot of recruiters while working at TheLadders, and about 50 percent of them say the cover letter is essential. The other 50 percent admit they never look at them and jump straight into the resume.

So what does that mean for you?

Topics: Ask Amanda, Job Application, Cover Letter

Get read: How cover letters market your resume

Posted by TheLadders

10:57 AM

There’s no denying that a powerful, customized cover letter is a key piece of any job search. It’s often how a potential employer decides whether or not to read your resume. So how do they work?coverletters resized 600

Know your audience and find a balance.

Think of it like this: the cover letter is the advertisement for your resume. It needs to be short, effective, and memorable. You make an almost immediate decision on whether or not you're interested in a product or service when viewing its ad. Similarly, a recruiter or employer will make a quick decision about reading your resume while viewing your cover letter.

A strong cover letter will have all of the attributes of a great advertisement.  It should be as tailored as possible to its intended audience. If it’s too long, it’s an immediate turn off to a busy recruiter. If it’s too short, it may undersell you. A hastily written cover letter or one full of errors will give the impression that you’re not taking your readers’ time seriously.

Topics: Cover Letter