You have just found the job of your dreams advertised and you are keen to apply. Your skills and experience match the requirements perfectly. However, it won't matter how great your resume or your references are if your Cover Letter does not impress the hiring manager enough for him to look them over.

A few years ago Companies were expanding and looking hard for qualified employees so even an application with only average presentation was looked over carefully, but now the number of applicants for almost every position is enormous and yours must stand out among a plethora of highly qualified applicants, so you need to work hard on writing an outstanding Cover Letter.

Here are five characteristics of a winning Cover Letter:-

1. It goes almost without saying that your cover letter should be well-written and free of grammatical and spelling errors. Your computer may not pick errors of usage so you should read it carefully yourself, and if possible ask someone else to check it as well. Read it aloud, listening carefully to detect any phrases that are clumsy or poorly expressed.

2. Let the Company know that you want to work for them because you are interested in their vision, not merely to serve your own ends. This does not mean telling them that you have been unemployed for a long time or that you desperately want this job, but that you show your enthusiasm for their goals and excitement about the possibility of contributing to them. The more you know about the company, the more effectively you can do this, so it is worth doing a little research into the scope and kind of their activities. If you are offered an interview you will want to do even more research into the company.

3. Focus on the benefits you can provide the company because of your unique experience and skills. You want to differentiate yourself from other applicants by defining the particular expertise you can offer which others cannot match. I think that it is extremely beneficial to fill out a Unique Selling Proposition for yourself so that you have a clear view of your points of differentiation. Your research into the company's goals and strategies will also help you here. If you know that they want to expand their market, or are moving into new aspects of their core business you can offer specific examples of your experience in that particular field.

4. Do not try to provide an exhaustive list of all the ways in which you meet their criteria. Your cover letter should not be longer than one page so you should express your enthusiasm and fitness for the position, the key areas in which you fit their profile, and the benefits you can offer to their mission.

5. Request an interview at the end of your letter. It may seem obvious to you that you are submitting your application in the hope of an interview and ultimately an offer, but requesting one demonstrates your confidence that you really are suited for the position.