When writing your resume cover letter keep in mind that the reviewer is only interested in one thing: the facts. Do not think of your cover letter as an autobiography. It should be brief and to the point. The purpose of the cover letter (and resume) should be to demonstrate that you meet or exceed the requirements listed in the job description. It should convey that you’re interested in the position and that you’re available to accept the position, if offered.
When writing the resume cover letter avoid negatives. A cover letter is not the place to explain why you left or are leaving an employer, why there are gaps in your employment dates, etc. These “negatives” are best delivered in person during the interview so that your personality can counter them.
Try to avoid a salary history in the cover letter. Even if the position specifically asks for your salary history, providing this information may work against you. If the job ad specifically says that resumes without a salary history will not be considered, give a historical salary range and state that your salary requirements are flexible based on the opportunity the position will provide.
Spend time thinking about the layout of your letter. Make sure that it is clean and easy to scan. Keep in mind, the reviewer of your cover letter and resume has hundreds (if not thousands) of cover letters and resumes to look at. Your cover letter should not be a summary of your resume; instead, consider it an introduction and an argument for why you are the best candidate for the company and specific position.
Above all, avoid the generic cover letter you get from books. If you are not sure how to write a targeted and personal cover letter, we suggest using a professional cover letter writing service. The services are fairly inexpensive – professional cover letter writing services start at about $30.
PLEASE do NOT follow the advice of poorly written resume and cover letter books and websites that advise on using platitudes and clichés in your cover letter. Resume reviewers do this for a living. They know that almost every candidate promises “excellent written and verbal communication skills”, and the ability to “think outside the box” and “juggle multiple tasks”. The point here is to be different and stand out. The goal is to demonstrate your written communication skills by writing a personal cover letter – Cutting and pasting a phrase from a cover letter or resume book is not impressive.
Your cover letter should be addressed to a specific person – avoid the “Dear Sir or Madam”. Form letters indicate that you are either just sending your resume to every employer in the area or you have not made an effort to learn more about the company.
You usually can find an appropriate contact name at the company fairly easily. Go to their company website, and search the “about us” pages for names of individuals to address your cover letter and resume to. It takes a few seconds and it will insure your letter gets into the right hands.
Still Stuck? Try the Cover Letter Creator. It’s a tool that will guide you though the process of creating a personalized cover letter.
Purpose of Your Cover Letter
Your cover letter is an important component of the application process. It serves as a way for you to summarize your qualifications, state your interest in a position, and stand out from other applicants. It is specific to each opportunity you are pursuing.
Cover letters should be well written and always accompanied by each resume you send out unless otherwise specified. It is particularly important to include a cover letter, if an objective is not listed on your resume, to be clear on what position you are interested in.
Tips for Writing Your Cover Letter
Writing a cover letter can be overwhelming. Focus your efforts and include content that is concise, relevant, and appealing to potential employers.
- While every cover letter is different, effective cover letters demonstrate you are a good fit for the position.
- Convey your enthusiam for the positon and knowledge of the company.
- Provide support and examples that showcase the skills and competencies that are being sought.
- Focus on your accomplishments and measurable results.
Follow standard business writing protocol.
- Address your cover letter to a specific person whenever possible. It may take some resourcefulness on your part to identify the appropriate person, but the letter will be better received.
- Write clearly and concisely.
- Use proper grammar and check for misspelled words.
- Limit your letter to one page.
- Be sure to include the date, an appropriate salutation, and closure with your signature.
Do not mass produce.
- Mass produced cover letters are easy to detect. Be sure to relate your specific skills and experiences to each indivdual position.
- Incorporate information that reflects your knowledge of the company, the industry, or the position.
- Consider that employers are seeking to fill specific roles and are looking for applicants that have the skills and qualities to succeed in that role.
Structuring Your Cover Letter
Follow these guidelines to ensure your cover letter is properly structured.
Paragraph 1: Capture Attention
- In your first paragraph, capture the reader's attention.
- Indicate the position you are applying for and how you learned of the vacancy, i.e. Did someone tell you about it? Did you see an ad or website?
- Outline the specific reasons why you are ideal for the position.
- Sell yourself in paragraph 1. Do not wait until the second paragraph to articulate why you are well qualified for the position.
Paragraph 2 & 3: Create Desire
- Describe yourself as a serious candidate and one worth inviting for an interview. State the hard details including your specific skills, history of responsibility, success, etc.
- Think about ways to reinforce an image of yourself that includes as many of the desired qualities as possible.
- Show, don’t tell. Remember, your goal is to set yourself apart from other applicants. Do not just tell the employer you have a skill, provide evidence. For example, do not just state you are “detail oriented”. Give the reader an example of something in your work history that proves that you are detail oriented.
- Refer to your resume, but do not simply list the contents of it.
- Emphasize how your variety of experiences are connected to the position and will benefit the company.
Paragraph 4: Call for Action
- Use a few lines to express your strong interest in the position and your desire to discuss your application further in an interview.
- Give a brief summary of the key points in the letter, but avoid repetition.