Every resume needs a cover letter whether its mailed, e-mailed or faxed! The cover letter is like the thesis in your paper, the handshake before a conversation, the cover to your novel. Without this necessary tool, you are loosing the potential to show who you are, spark the potential employers interest, as well as show your professionalism. We’ve put together a cover letter 101 to show you how its done.
Setting up your Cover Letter
These are the basic rules for constructing your cover letter:
- It should be easy to read and be in a conversational tone.
- Avoid using stiff wording or jargon, and be brief and to the point.
- Keep a cover letter at one page!
- The first few sentences tell which job you are applying for.
- Explain your qualifications without repeating your resume.
- A cover letter follows that same rules and layout options for a standard business letter.
- Use proper grammar and punctuation.
- Hand sign your signature above your typed signature.
- Address the cover letter to an individual and avoid sending to a department or organization.
- Never address it “To Whom It May Concern.”
- When sending your resume in an email, your cover letter serves as the e-mail and your resume is the attachment.
- To look professional, use the same quality paper you used for your resume.
- If you are sending your information for a specific job lead, construct your cover letter to reflect your abilities and how they can be applied to the specific position.
- Your and your reviewers addresses are at the top of the page and your signature above your typed name at the bottom.
- All letters should be single spaced, flushed left, with each paragraph followed by a space line.
- Most letters are two to three paragraphs long
Parts of the Cover Letter
There are four parts of the content in your cover letter:
Salutation: If you are not sure the exact person you are sending your letter to, call or research and find out. Check that the spelling of the name is correct and their position title is accurate. Pay attention to Mr. and Ms. Before gender-neutral names and be sure to use a colon after the name and not a comma.
Opening: The first few sentences of your cover letter should reflect what job your are applying for and the connection you have with the company. Mention any recommendations or referrals of people the reviewer will know. If you are responding to an advertisement, refer to which one you are responding to and the source that published it. Briefly explain any experiences you’ve had with the company or refer to any article/research written about the company. However, save the specifics for the interview, just reflect your interest and involvement with the company.
Body: This section is to describe briefly your qualifications for the position you’re interested in. Don’t repeat your resume. Summarize your most relevant information or additional details about accomplishments. You could also use this opportunity to address any gaps in your work history, but do not volunteer negative information unless you have to. Be sure to have a consistent, positive, and confident tone.
Conclusion: This, being the closing paragraph of your cover letter, is the best opportunity to thank the reviewer, request an interview, and repeat your contact information. Reflect your interest and commitment to the specific job opportunity. If you want to call and follow up after they receive your information, don’t tell them you are and then not follow through. The reviewer will appreciate your initiative and will look at that quality when considering whom they will hire. Find a way to keep your name in the reviewers mind; leave an impact!