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Writing an amazing cover letter is a great way to stand out in the pile of resumes and cover letters that a hiring manager receives. One resume can start to look like the next after a hiring manager has reviewed a couple dozen, and that’s when a well-crafted cover letter can help you land a job interview.

Never underestimate the need to write a compelling cover letter. It’s a marketing tool that many job applicants overlook. If you give it the attention it deserves, you’ll increase the number of job interviews you get. Following are five things to keep in mind so you always write a cover letter that gets you job interviews.

1. Get to the point.

Your cover letter should be succinct and to the point. If you cannot hook the reader within the first few sentences, then the rest of your cover letter is wasted effort. Write like a journalist and make sure the most important points are at the top of your cover letter.

Although you should be brief, your cover letter shouldn’t be too short. It needs to say something of value to demonstrate that you care enough about the job opportunity that you took the time to write something interesting, useful, and meaningful to the hiring manager. Don’t sacrifice quality for brevity. When you learn to strike the right balance, you’ll see the number of job interviews you get increase.

2. Stay professional.

There are few jobs and companies where a resume and cover letter in cute fonts, colorful paper, and unusual layouts will actually help you to get an interview. Far more often, unusual resumes and cover letters will be relegated to the trash. Instead of demonstrating your ability to be quirky, demonstrate how professional you are by creating a highly professional resume and cover letter. That’s the kind of person most companies will trust to get the work done that needs to be completed on a daily basis.

Bottom-line, unless the job and company that you’re applying to are known to be receptive to out-of-the-box resumes and cover letters, always keep yours professional.

3. Don’t use a generic template.

Never use a cover letter template that you find online and never use the same cover letter for every job that you apply to. Show the hiring manager that the job means more to you by creating a unique cover letter that speaks directly to the hiring manager’s needs. A generic cover letter can actually hurt your chances of getting an interview. Believe it or not, seasoned human resources professionals and hiring managers can spot a generic cover letter very quickly, and it leaves a negative impression that even the best applicant can have trouble overcoming.

4. Sell yourself.

Your cover letter is a sales tool, so use it as such and sell yourself in it. Write about how the company can benefit by hiring you, just like a direct mail copywriter would write about how a product or service can benefit a customer. This is your chance to use sales phrases to intrigue the hiring manager, which you couldn’t use in your resume.

5. Address the needs identified in the job posting.

Identify the hiring manager’s top needs as described in the job posting and explain how you can meet those needs in your cover letter. Some of these points will be a recap from your resume and others might not be covered in your resume.

This is your chance to address each of the hiring manager’s needs, so he doesn’t miss how you can solve his problems. Don’t rely on the hope that he’ll find each point in your resume. Instead, reiterate them in your cover letter and double your chances of getting noticed and landing the job interview.

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