Crafting a Perfect Cover Letter

Regardless of how impressive your resume may be, cover letters are the first thing most employers see so it’s incredibly important to spend some time perfecting them before submitting a job application. Along with identifying the exact position you are applying for and why you are worthy of consideration, your cover letter gives you a chance to market yourself by highlighting the specific skills and credentials that make you qualified. If done well, your cover letter should give a hiring manager the impression that you would be a perfect fit for the job in question.

Below, I’ve outlined a few things that are important to consider when crafting a cover letter.

Customize it. The last thing you want to do in a cover letter is copy and paste sentences your resumé or from old cover letter drafts. You must always tailor your cover letter for the specific position being advertised. Make sure to reiterate key words found in the job posting or classified ad, so that whoever is reading it can tell that you understand exactly what the job requires. For example, if GDS experience and sales experience are listed under required qualifications, identify which GDS systems you have used (Sabre, Amadeus, etc.) and talk about your track record in sales.

Keep it brief. A prospective employer is more likely to read your cover letter quickly or even skim over it rather than examine each sentence carefully, so say what needs to be said in as few words as possible. Keep it crisp, clear and concise, and never write more than three or four short paragraphs; cover letters should always be kept to a single page.

Display confidence, but don’t boast. Try not to exert overzealous confidence in your cover letter. Arrogance is not what employers are looking for, as they don’t want to waste time interviewing someone that might be overstating their abilities. Avoid statements like “I am convinced that I am the best candidate for this job, and if you were to grant me an interview I know you would reach the same conclusion.” Don’t misrepresent yourself in any way—be honest, and try to find a happy medium between confident and humble.

Make it a PDF. Format your cover letter and resume in PDF format, unless the posting specifically states otherwise. PDF files are compatible with most systems and will not appear differently, in terms of fonts and formatting, from one computer to the next. It’s quick and easy to export a Word document into PDF format so there’s no reason not to, and as a bonus it looks more professional.

If you follow these guidelines, along with general considerations of style, spelling and grammar, your cover letters are bound to make a good impression on prospective employers in your field.

By Dan McDonald

Dan is a Sales and Marketing Development Associate at Baxter Media. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 2011.