6 Simple Ways to Write a Better Cover Letter - UKcopy Copywriting and Corrections

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6 Simple Ways to Write a Better Cover Letter

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Write a Better Cover Letter

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. When it comes to searching for a new job, your cover letter is the first impression you make with a potential employer. A great cover letter will have the hiring manager excited to read your resume. A bad cover letter may mean he or she won’t read your resume at all. The following are six simple ways to write a better cover letter:

  1. Start off with a bang. Don’t go for the tried and tired standard opening sentence of so many cover letters, “Please find my resume attached in response to your position.” Instead, be more original, so that you grab the hiring manager’s attention from the very beginning.
  2. Make your cover letter specific to the company. Although it may be tempting to use a simple cover letter that allows you to change the name of the company and position title, a better cover letter is specific to the company to which you are applying. Include details about why you’d like to work at that company or some of their recent achievements to further personalize your cover letter.
  3. Match your cover letter to the job description. If the job description says the company is looking for qualities A, B and C, make sure you note that you have these qualities (assuming you do). Describe them using wording very similar to that of the job description, so that your cover letter closely matches it. This way, from the beginning, the hiring manager will think you’re a perfect fit for the position.
  4. Start tooting your own horn. Although your resume is the place to fully list all of your accomplishments over the years, it is important to cover some of the major and most relevant accomplishments in your cover letter. If possible, use quantifiable results, such as an increase in sales figures or a decrease in costs.
  5. Size matters. Your cover letter should not exceed one page in length. Use your normal 12-point font. The goal of a better cover letter is to whet the hiring managers’ appetites, so that they’ll be hungry to read your resume. Don’t make your cover letter so long and all-encompassing that hiring managers feel like they don’t need to review it.
  6. Proofread your cover letter before sending it. If you want to write a better cover letter, spend time proofreading it before you send it. Even the most well-written cover letters can be tweaked to be even better. If possible, have a friend or family member read your cover letter to help you spot any errors.

Randall Davidson reviews cover letters and resumes every day, as part of his duties as a co-founder of proofreading services company ProofreadingServices.Us. Randall knows that some of the cover letters he receives could benefit from ProofreadingServices.Us’ document proofreading services.

Does nobody proof read anymore?

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

There seems to be a severe lack of proof reading going on on the Internet. I see miss-spellings and grammar mistakes on a daily basis. Often this is due to the writer having to communicate in English to get his or her point across and it may not be their first language. On blogs I allow a bit of latitude too. A blog may be the endeavour of a professional writer but more often than not it is the musings of an ordinary person. Posts are written freely and quickly and published, warts and all.

However, what I see far too much of, in my opinion, is sloppy copy on professional sites. Often these are large multi-national affairs with plenty of staff (and budget) for a bit of checking. It is often simple things like plurals when there shouldn’t be any and vice versa. It’s not a deal breaker and, usually, the meaning is still clear but it is unprofessional.

If I’m going to trust a site with my online business I want to know that I can trust them to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. If they can’t manage that am I going to trust them to keep my credit card number and personal details secure? I don’t think so!

Reputation in business is everything but sometimes the smallest, seemingly unimportant, things can have a big impact. Customers react to subtle cues. They’re often unaware that they are doing it but they are heavily influenced in their feeling for a company or organisation by how that company or organisation presents themselves. We all judge a book by its cover whether we want to or not.

So, in short, you wouldn’t turn up to a job interview in shorts and a T-shirt so don’t do the equivalent on the web. Check everything twice and then get someone else, who hasn’t seen it before, to check it again.

[Edit: On proofing this I found 5 simple errors. I rest my case.]

9 suggestions for non-native speakers of English

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

If English is your second language here’s a little advice for when you write it. English is the main language in use on the internet so if you’re writing online or for print publications here are a few things to consider.

1. Never use an automated online translator

Online translators are great for translating things back into your own language so that you can understand them. They aren’t fantastically accurate but they give you a good idea what the writer is trying to say. However, if you use it to translate your words into English the results may be misleading, insulting or just plain unprofessional. None of these will make you look good. Furthermore, you know what you were trying to say but you have no idea if that is what it does say.

2. Proof read carefully – then get someone else to do the same

Simple errors look bad and don’t inspire confidence but are easy to overlook when we read our own work. Our brains see what we think should be there and not what is there. Get someone else to read it and they will be better able to spot errors that you have missed.

3. Use short simple sentences.

There is less to go wrong in a short sentence and you are more likely to be understood. Remember, your readers wont all be native speakers and may struggle with complicated sentences. Also, this is in keeping with good web writing practice where the amount of text should be only 10% of what you would put in a printed document.

4. Use either US spellings or UK – not both

There are many words (like colour / color ) that are spelt differently in the UK from the US. There are also idiomatic phrases that are unique to one or the other. Don’t mix and match these words and phrases as it becomes confusing. Think about who your target audience is and choose spellings and idiom that are appropriate.

5.Be careful with numbers

Many European countries use the comma and period (point) in the opposite way to English speaking countries. For example one thousand would be 1.000 instead of 1,000. So, when writing in English be sure to separate the thousands with a comma and use a period for decimal places. E.g. 23,056.45.

6. Don’t try and translate idiomatic phrases from your own language directly

All languages have their own different idiomatic quirks. If you translate them directly at best you end up with something confusing and at worst you have something rude or insulting.

7. Be careful about the tone of your writing

Don’t use colloquial phrases, slang, street talk or culturally specific references in professional writing. It is easy to come across as ignorant, poorly educated or stupid instead of how you intended to appear.

8. Be extra specially careful of words that sound the same but are spelt differently

This is often a problem for people who hear and speak a language much more than they read it. Words like there, their and they’re all sound the same but have distinctly different meanings. Other examples include: two, to and too; yore, your, you’re and yaw; weave and we’ve; so, sew and sow. Again, if you use the wrong one you will be understood but look unprofessional.

9. Check agreements

Is the subject of the sentence singular or plural. We say I WAS going and not I WERE going. There ARE fifty people here not there IS fifty people here. Watch out for some of the tricky ones. The people ARE singing but the data IS correct.