How to Write a Persuasive Cover Letter

Present yourself as a professional by always typing your cover letters.
Present yourself as a professional by always typing your cover letters. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

The cover letter acts as an advertisement of your skills and abilities in relation to a desired job. Just like a real estate advertisement needs to sell the features of a home, the cover letter must sell your knowledge, skills, education and experience to potential employers. Using persuasive language in the cover letter improves your chances of receiving an invitation for an interview, according to the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University.

Greet the reader with a traditional professional greeting such as “Dear Ms. Jones.” If the job advertisement does not contain the name of a contact person, call the employer and ask for the name of the person reviewing applications for the position. If the advertisement and the employer do not disclose the name of the employer, use a professional generic greeting such as “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Explain your reason for writing to the contact person in the first sentence of your letter. The first sentence should tell the hiring manager or recruiter which position you desire and how you found out about the opening.

Convince the reader that your experience would benefit his company. Use persuasive language that describes instances in which you helped a previous employer save money, improve efficiency or create new systems. Instead of using generic phrases such as “I saved my employer money,” use specific examples such as “I implemented a new accounting policy that reduced our accounts receivable balance by 10 percent.”

Persuade the reviewer that you truly want the job by explaining how the position matches your goals and values. Use the job advertisement as a guide for deciding which goals and values to include and which to leave out.

Demonstrate to the employer that your skills, abilities, education and work experience qualify you for the position. Review the job advertisement and address all of the requirements in your cover letter. If the prospective employer desires a candidate with experience using WordPress software, for example, explain how you have used WordPress and provide examples of sites you designed or customized with the software.

Ask the recruiter or hiring manager to review your resume and any supporting application materials. Include your telephone number and email address so the recruiter can contact you to schedule an interview. Thank the reviewer for considering your application.

End the letter with a professional closing such as “Yours truly” or “Sincerely yours.”

Tips & Warnings

  • Proofread your cover letter before you send it to a potential employer. Typos, spelling errors and grammatical errors leave prospective employers with a bad first impression.
  • Tailor your cover letter to each prospective employer instead of using the same version every time you apply for a job.

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