How To Write A Winning Cover Letter

December 19, 2017

How To Write A Winning Cover Letter

by Ian D Scofield

Whether you are looking to get into law enforcement or you are looking to move up in the law enforcement world you will more than likely at some point need to write a cover letter.  You might also have to write one if you plan to do continuing education or apply for special training.  When you write a cover letter, mastering the cover letter will make the difference between selling yourself and someone else getting the job.

Today we are going to look at how you can craft a winning cover letter.

Research

Before you put pen to paper it is important that you take the time to research the department/program/position that you are applying for.  Your cover letter should be far from generic and tailored specifically to the area that you are applying for.

If your cover letter appears to be a cookie cutter from another application, it is likely to be thrown out.  Most people who are looking for cover letters are searching for people who will put the time and effort into crafting a detailed letter about why they are a fit for that specific position.

Here are just some of the things that you are going to want to know to help you tailor your letter:

  • Desired Traits
  • Desired Experience
  • Agency Trends
  • Agency Needs
  • Agency Mission Statement
  • Disqualifiers

Map It Out

Just like an operational plan, you want to map out your cover letter.  Start with an introduction, then three supporting paragraphs, and follow it up with a conclusion.  Close the letter with a sincerely and your name.

Decide what you want each paragraph to talk about.  For most people, they decide to start off strong, with the most important information closer to the top of the letter.

Format It Properly

Formatting your cover letter properly is important.  There is a set standard that most letters follow.  It varies slightly and you can tinker with it, but try to stick close to the standard.

Start with your name and contact details aligned to the right, then below that the date (aligned left).  Then put the agency/recipient’s information aligned on the left.  Then have an intro of Dear Mr./Ms./Officer/ Etc.  If you don’t know your recipient’s name, address it To Whom It May Concern.

Conclude it with Thank You or Sincerely aligned to the left, a few spaces, and your name.

Size

Your cover letter should not exceed one page unless otherwise requested by the application instructions.  Use standard margins and 11 or 12-point font.  This will help to keep your information relevant.

Keeping it short also helps to prevent you from adding in unnecessary words or sentences that could jeopardize the letter.

Start With An Introduction

The first part of your letter should be an introduction.  Often times this takes the form of the first paragraph of the cover letter.  Here is an example:

My name is Ian Scofield and I am highly interested in participating in the upcoming training event that you are putting on.  Over two years in the hospital security industry and six more years in the physical security industry have made me an outstanding candidate for the position.

Be Professionally Personal

A cover letter is supposed to show who you are so it needs to be personal.  It needs to delve into what you have done and what has formed you.  But at the same time, it should be what has formed you professionally to give you the skills you have now.  Hence the term professionally personal.

Read through your letter to make sure that every piece is professional but make it connect personally with the readers.

Highlight Your Value

You are going to bring something to a department, program, or position, no matter who you are.  We all have our own skill sets, training, and experience that makes us better at what we do.  A cover letter is your chance to articulate this.

One of the best ways that you can do this is to show in the letter that you understand the issues that the department is dealing with and demonstrate how you can help them with those issues.  Highlight why you are the person to do this.

Think of this as selling yourself to whoever is reading the letter.

Include Evidence

Talking about yourself is part of the cover letter writing experience, but you need to use evidence. A lack of evidence will leave the interviewer wondering how much of your letter is embellished and how much of it is the truth.

It comes down to backing up what you say.

Show That You Care

Being excited and caring shows that you are someone who wants to do the job, not just someone who is looking for any old job.  While you don't want to sound like an overeager kid but being interested is a good thing.  It means you are motivated.

 

Writing a cover letter for most people is a lost art.  However, the majority of HR personnel will ignore entries that don't have a cover letter attached.  This is partially due to the fact that a cover letter has long been a part of the application process.  The other important feature of a cover letter is it gives a more humanized version of the resume that argues for the candidate.  Don't forget to bookmark this page for next time you need to write a cover letter.

Stay safe out there!

 

 

About The Author:

Ian is a staff writer at APTI and hospital security officer at a major medical center who has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice.  He has held multiple positions in the security industry from patrol supervisor to auxiliary public safety officer.  At APTI he brings his writing skills to help further the careers of others and provide quality content.  Feel free to visit his freelancing site or his creative writing site.





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