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Did you know that recruiters only spend about 6 seconds reviewing each resumé in their pile? When everyone has a good GPA and similar work experience what can help you stand out? A good cover letter is definitely the answer. In this post, I will share my 6 tips on how to write a successful cover letter.

1) The Salutation

Make sure to start with a salutation to the appropriate contact person. Do your research and try to find out who the cover letter and resume will be sent to. If you aren’t able to find a name, use a greeting such as “Dear Hiring Manager,” or something similar. Try to avoid “to whom it may concern”.

2) Spelling/Grammatical Mistakes

This is the worst mistake that you could make! Be sure to spend some time reviewing your cover letter before sending it out. Check for awkward sounding sentences and misspelled words - especially company names!

3) The Format

A cover letter should not exceed one page in length, and should not be one large paragraph. Use different sentence structure. The hiring manager has likely received stacks of cover letters for this specific posting - make sure you catch their attention immediately with an inviting first sentence. Sell yourself and your skills!

4) The Font

Times New Roman or Calibri are good font choices, but try to stay away from fonts like Courier New. You want to highlight your qualifications, without making it difficult for the hiring manager to read.

5) The Tone

You want to come off as professional and friendly, as well as enthusiastic about the position you are applying for. Make sure to show respect to the reader, and to get your points across as briefly as possible. You are writing this cover letter in order to introduce yourself to the company, and explaining why they should want to know (and hire) you.

6) Vagueness

You definitely want to use descriptive keywords in your cover letter, as well as your resumé. The more detailed your explanation of what qualifications you have is, the better your chance of getting a phone call for an interview! However, be sure to keep page length in mind.

I hope these tips will help you in writing a successful cover letter. It is an essential step in making an effective first impression with a potential employer.  

If you are still struggling with your cover letter, the Telfer Career Centre and its staff are available to help. Book an appointment for a cover letter critique by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 613-562-5656.

Make sure to check out the Marketing Yourself section of the Career Centre website for more information on cover letters!

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