Writing a Good Cover Letter

WRITING A COVER LETTER

For many companies a candidates’ cover letter is just as important as a resume itself. While a well-crafted professional resume can certainly go a long way helping to get your foot in the door, your cover letter can provide a serious leg up on other candidates. In order to assist you in presenting yourself as a truly eye-catching candidate we’ll begin by first defining what exactly a cover letter IS as well as what it is NOT.

  • What a Cover Letter IS.
    • A short, typically one page, introduction of yourself as a candidate.
    • An opportunity to showcase specific skills and experiences you bring to a specific position as well as the organization as a whole.
    • A valuable way to differentiate yourself from what, at times, can be an overwhelming number of generic applicants.
  • What a Cover Letter IS NOT.
    • Your summary. A summary, typically the introductory paragraph on your resume, is a much more generalized overview of you as a candidate. A cover letter is much more specialized and should be tailored to a specific industry or job posting.
    • A place to be too personal. Many candidates make the unfortunate mistake of using a cover letter as an opportunity to plea for an interview. While it is good to show interest in the position it is extremely important to make sure that your cover letter is as professional as possible in order to present you in the best possible light.
    • Meant to be Robotic. Maintaining your professionalism is important but your cover letter is also a great opportunity to give a hiring manager a glimpse of the talented, hard-working, valuable candidate you really are.

COVER LETTER TIPS

Recruiters and Hiring Managers are tasked with sorting through sometimes overwhelming numbers of applicants to find the best possible candidates for their companies. The countless number of online job sites as well as the popularity of social media have certainly helped candidates find job postings over the past few years but these same conveniences have made life much more difficult for employers. Your cover letter is your time to shine and stand out from the crowd.

As we mentioned earlier your cover letter is a great place to inject some of your personality it’s important to remember that first and foremost this is a professional document. Keep it simple with basic fonts and avoid using photos, flashy graphics or other images. Showcasing personality while maintaining professionalism is definitely easier said than done. Over the next few paragraphs we’ll help make sense of all of this and walk you through the process.

CONTACT INFO:

Begin with your personal contact information. This should include your name, address and your preferred email address as well as phone number. One item to note here: If you are currently employed but seeking other opportunities DO NOT list your currently employers’ phone number or your email address that has been given to you by your employer.

Example:

(Your Name)
(Your Street Address)
(Your City), (Your State) (Your Zip Code)
(Your Email Address)
(Your Phone Number)

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

Start with the date you are applying. This should be the date you apply online, drop off your resume to a potential employer or the date you've mailed your documents. Next, include the name of the organization and if possible the specific name of the hiring manager within the company.

Example:

(Date of Application)
(Name of Organization)
(Name of Hiring Manager)

PARAGRAPH 1: THE JOB

Your opening paragraph is your potential employers first look at you as a candidate. Make sure you note the specific job duties that relate to you as an applicant. This section should be about the position itself followed by a sentence or two about why you are interested in the position. It's important to show excitement in this section. You will outline your skillset in more detail in Paragraph 2.

PARAGRAPH 2: ABOUT YOU

In this section, make sure to include specific experiences, education and skills that pertain to the job specifically. If you are cutting and pasting from a different cover letter for another position please make ABSOLUTELY certain you DO NOT include items from other applications that may not pertain to this position.

PARAGRAPH 3: ITEMS OF NOTE

This is your opportunity to wrap up the cover letter with any particular items of note.

These may include:

  • Gaps in Employment that may require explanation
  • Any additional skills or experiences that may help you stand out from other candidates
  • Thanking the potential employer for their time as well as thanking in advance for the opportunity to interview for this position.

CLOSING:

Thank You,
Your Name