If you're not sending a cover letter with your resume for job openings, you're setting yourself up for failure. More often than not, employers request a cover letter with a resume in the job description. How well have you been following instructions?
What's A Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a marketing tool (like your resume) that expresses your interest in a job opening or asks if any positions matching your qualifications are available. It's a strategic document that complements your professionally-composed resume with the enthusiasm and personality that doesn't necessarily come across on a resume alone. The key to a successful cover letter is to write an employer-centric document.
Writing an employer-centered letter means focusing on the company and less on you. What are the company's goals? What is the hiring manager looking for? What problems are they trying to solve by hiring a new employee? These questions are often answered in the job description and job requirements.
Presentation & Appearance
Your cover letter should complement your resume not duplicate it. Your resume should be written as a personally branded marketing tool, so your cover letter should match in appearance. Keep the same heading and contact information to imitate the appearance of letterhead. The margins should also match. Use the same font, and keep the font at a readable size (10-12 pt font).
Get More Tips
Like our Facebook page for weekly tips!
(We won't SPAM your News Feed.)
Writing Your Cover Letter
Your cover letter should not be more than a page. Often a cover letter is half a page long and formatted to be centered in the document. The structure is very simple too.
After addressing the letter properly ("Dear FIRST AND LAST NAME:" or "Dear Hiring Manager:"), start the first paragraph by explaining the purpose of your letter. Don't forget to use engaging language, like in your resume, to keep the reader interested and encourage them to keep reading. If applying for a specific job opening, make sure to express your interest in applying for that position. Make sure to specifically state the company name and position title.
In a brief paragraph, summarize your strengths and relevant qualifications. If you have recently graduated with your degree and your specific degree is a job requirement, say so and identify how your education makes you stand out. Briefly discuss your most valuable skills and how they will benefit the employer.
Employers will consider your qualifications and strengths fluff if you can't back them up with examples. Using a short bullet list, give concise examples of your accomplishments or how your skills have given other employers success. Remember employers want to see if and how you will solve their problem and fulfill their needs.
Before finishing your cover letter, express your interest again and encourage the reader to contact you at his or her earliest convenience. Suggesting this as a way to further discuss your qualifications or to further discuss the company's needs would be an excellent way to encourage follow up. This is your first impression on an employer. Make sure you sound excited about the opportunity.