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Write a Better Cover Letter

Follow these five tips to bolster your case and land an interview.  

1. Do your research. Before you tell an organization why you belong there, start by learning everything you can about its culture and mission. “Write your cover letter in a way that tells an employer that you’ve investigated their culture and operation,” says Jay Rudolph, training and development specialist, National Guard Job Connection Education Program (JCEP). “It can be as simple as reading a mission statement that you believe in and paraphrasing that in your letter. It shows that you have invested some time looking into that organization—and that’s a big piece of the pie.”
2. Follow the traditional format. Every cover letter should have your name and address in the top left corner, with the date one to two spaces below. Then skip three or four lines and type the name of the person you are contacting, along with the business address. Then you can write your letter. On the right side of the page, sign the letter with a formal salutation and your signature. Save the document as a PDF if you are sending it electronically. Nearly every operating system supports the ability to open PDF files.
3. Be compelling. A cover letter should highlight your most relevant experience and skills. Make it compelling and easy to read. “First, introduce yourself and articulate the position you are interested in,” Rudolph says. “Use the body of the letter to highlight your key attributes that are essential to their organization. Close the letter by asking for their sincere consideration. Getting to those three key parts of a cover letter is the key.”
4. Include your military experience. According to Rudolph, too many Soldiers fall into the trap of thinking that their military experience doesn’t directly apply to a civilian job. But the things you learn in the military are always relevant. “Service members are typically very confident and capable of learning new things, processes and procedures,” Rudolph adds. “We don’t always articulate our ability to do that. When you’re successful in the service, you have already proven that you perform well in a diverse culture. Include those skills in your cover letter—they are extremely valuable.”
5. Keep it concise. Less is always more. Your cover letter should be short and concise, while offering compelling information about your relevant job experience for an organization. After you’ve written the letter and talked about your skills and interest in the position, edit the body several times to make sure it’s clear, simple to understand and friendly in tone. 
– Story by Megan Pacella