Writing a cover letter: What you need to know

By Antoine Remise 10 June 2009

Job applicants should use cover letters to “brand” themselves and convince hiring managers that they are the perfect fit for an offered position. Photo by: Antoine Remise

All applicants wish they would know what exactly recruiters look for in a resume and cover letter. For the latter, the basic rule is to catch the attention of hiring managers and not bore them, considering the thousands of applications they receive every year. Thus an applicant’s motto should be: Go straight to the point!

The objective is to “brand” yourself and convince the recruiter that you are a great fit for the offered position. Recruiters have some specific expectations regarding the format, structure and content of a cover letter.

The cover letter complements the resume

Candidates need to remember that most recruiters look at the resume first and then the cover letter. That makes it important to find a good balance between resume information and cover letter content.

For example, there is no need to repeat what was mentioned in the resume, such as different job titles. The cover letter, meanwhile, should elaborate on selected resume information that is directly relevant to the job.

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About the author

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Antoine Remise

Antoine joined Devex as a fellow and now serves as our international development correspondent based in Paris. He holds a bachelor's in political science from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques of Lille and a master's in development administration and planning from the University College in London. Antoine has conducted researche for development projects in Chile, Senegal and Uganda, notably on education, health, local saving systems and housing issues. He is fluent in French, English and Spanish."

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