Between the sheets: “Dirty little secrets of cover letters revealed”

When it comes to cover letters no one seems willing to discuss what it takes to write a good one or much less a passable one, everyone just seems to think you’ll somehow “know” what to write and how to write it without a script or guidelines. Not surprisingly the results are cover letters so vague they end up saying little of anything or too personal they say way too much!

Let’s start with the basics

Resumes are like movie credits (where the movie was shot, who was involved, songs used etc.) while cover letters are the movie trailer or teaser (filled with drama and excitement that’ll draw a potential audience)

The teaser also makes it known immediately what kind of movie you’ll be watching. You wouldn’t expect lots of explosions in a romantic comedy now would you? So, you’ve gotta make sure that what you write fits with the reader’s expectations and is conveyed quickly.

You ever wonder why Hollywood keeps recycling blockbusters? Well, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! The same goes for cover letters. Don’t go too far outside the box and stay within the parameters of what the employer expects.

Why resume copycats get more interviews

What do you include in your cover letter?

Identify the Needs

Go through the job posting and highlight the things you’d consider to be the employers “needs,” these are what you must have to do the job.

Examples could be:

Driver’s License

CPR/First Aid

College Diploma

Identify the Wants

These are the “sexy extras.” They’re the additional skills or qualifications that’ll put your resume ahead of someone who’s only addressed the “needs.”

Examples could be:

Specific training in software or equipment

Experience leading a team

Knowledge in certain protocols

Now that you’ve identified the employer’s “wants” and “needs” you must tailor your cover letter to include this information. If you really want to grab their attention you should try to quantify the information with facts, figures and accomplishment statements.

How to develop Accomplishment Statements

Examples could be:

Knowledge of special protocols helped increased productivity by 40%

Led teams of 20 product developers in integrating new software program

Now don’t make your cover letter a snooze fest but the next sexy summer blockbuster everyone’s talking about! 



Uncovering the mystery of a Good Cover Letter

What does your cover letter say about you?

What does your cover letter say about you?

The secret to writing a good cover letter…it should be customized to each employment posting! The tailored cover letter is the first formal document the employer reads about you.

Uncovering the Mystery:

  • Does your cover letter capture the employer’s interest/attention?
  • Does it connect you to the position?
  • Does it emphasize that you are a perfect fit for the position?
  • Does it convey that you have knowledge about the company?
  • Is it professional in tone and appearance?
  • Have you made a great first impression?
  • Have you included your branding?
  • Is the letter head consistent with what you used on your resume and reference sheet?
  • Is it free of errors?
  • Did you address the cover letter to a specific person?  (and quote the job number)
  • Is it one page in length? (clear and concise)
  • Did you use high-impact accomplishment statements?
  • Did you have a friend or colleague review it?

If you take the time to develop a tailored cover letter which is professional, visually attractive, easy to read and has a good balance you have completed the first step in the process to land yourself an interview with the company you are applying for. Next step for you is a customized…..Resume!

Melanie Graham is a Continuing Education Student currently studying within the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACES offers a comprehensive Employment Advisement program for our students. For more information about Employment Advisement, please visit the MCACES website, or contact Lidia Siino, Employment & Communications Specialist at