Writing a great cover letter
Cover letters are a critical part of any job application packet. A good cover letter can
increase your chances for getting an interview. On the other hand, a poor cover letter
can sink even the best of resumes. Knowing how to write a cover letter is a skill that
you need to develop. Don't regard it as an afterthought.
Your cover letter needs to communicate many things to your future employer. Think
of it as a sales letter and the product you are selling is YOU. This is your chance to
really communicate your enthusiasm, your knowledge of the company and its
product, and how you will be the best person for the job. The cover letter is NOT a
rehash of the resume. Rather, it is a chance to set the tone and create an impression of
you that makes the recruiter want to know more about you.
Cover letters often follow a common format. That format looks like this:
Your contact information
Recruiter's name and title
Company contact information
Dear Mr/Ms/ Title Real name,
This is why I am writing you and this is the job for which I am applying. Make it two
or three sentences. Convey your enthusiasm.
These are the things that I have accomplished. Here are a couple of examples. This is
how these are relevant to this job position. You can use bullet items if you think it
would be more effective.
Ask for an interview. Suggest a time when you will call to follow up. Say thanks for
Type your name
Your contact information should include your full name, your phone number, your
physical address and an email address where you can be reached.
The company contact information needs to have a specific name and title for the
person who is acting as a hiring authority. If the information is not listed in the job
notice, then you can try to get the information from the internet or call the Human
Relations department and get a name. Be sure to list the title of the person and the
physical address of the company.
NEVER send a letter addressed to "Dear Sir", "Dear Madam", or "To Whom it May
Concern". Letters with these generic salutations are often just thrown into the reject
pile. Not taking the time to find out to whom you should address the letter speaks
volumes about you. It suggests that you are lazy or that you don't really want the job.
Neither of those is a good way to impress your potential employer.
In the introduction, or first paragraph of your letter be sure to communicate what job
you are looking for. If there was a specific title and job number, please include it. In
the first paragraph you need to grab the reader's attention and communicate that you
are really excited to be able to have the chance to work for this company. Preferably,
you can get something in about how you are qualified.
In the next two paragraphs, give examples of your skills and show the employer how
these skills relate to the job that is being offered. The resume will list all of your
general experiences so don't rehash them here. This is the place to show how what
you have listed in your resume will help the employer solve the problems for which
they are hiring. Companies don't really care about why you want the job. Their
bottom line is to try to hire someone who will fill their needs.
In the final paragraph you probably want to ask for an interview. Many cover letters
don't do this. Failure to ask for the interview may mean you don't get one. Don't leave
the ball in the employer's court.
Conclude with either "Sincerely" or "Respectfully". Sign your name in blue ink.
Here are just a couple of other quick pointers. Make sure you have lots of white space.
Try to make your paragraphs 3-5 sentences at the most. Write in plain English. Make
sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors in the letter. Use common fonts like
Arial or Times New Roman. Send the letter on white or ivory paper.
Now, go out there and write that awesome letter and get that interview! Remember
that your letter creates the company's first impression of you. Make it a good one.