Including a cover letter with your resume is very beneficial and often requested by employers. A cover letter allows you the opportunity to expand on your experiences, clear up any misconceptions about your resume, and explain to the employer exactly how your skills align with the position they are looking to fill. If you grumble at the idea of writing a cover letter, you are not alone. Deciding what information to include, the length of the letter, and what format to use can all be challenging.
Keep these suggestions in mind when writing your next cover letter!
- If possible, address your cover letter to a specific person. If the name is not listed in the job description, you may research their website or contact the employer to determine the most appropriate person to address.
- Your introduction paragraph should state the purpose for which you are writing. Be specific about the title of the position as well as where you heard about the position. If you were referred by a professional contact, you may state their name here. You will also want to include a sentence that grabs the attention of the employer to entice them to keep reading.
- As you write your cover letter, have a copy of the job description close by. The points highlighted in your letter should align specifically with the skills outlined in the job description. If the job description isn’t specific, you may research the title of the position to see what skills are typically required.
- Now that you have a list of skills, pick a couple of your strongest experiences and expand on them. The experiences you choose should coincide specifically with the skills required for the position. Indicate how these experiences make you a good candidate. The cover letter is your opportunity to provide specific details about your experiences, so this section should be more in depth than what is stated on your resume. This portion will make up the body of the letter and should be no longer than three paragraphs.
- In the closing paragraph, be proactive in requesting an interview to further discuss your qualifications. Restate how your skills align with the position for which you are applying. Include your contact information here.
- Similar to your resume, create a convincing cover letter by quantifying your results when possible. Also, use action verbs to help your accomplishments really stand out.
- When selecting the format of your letter, choose one that is both eye appealing and easy to read. It is acceptable to include bullet points if you are listing several different points.
- The length of your cover letter should be no longer than one page and the font size should not be smaller than 11 point. The letter should follow the structure and format of a professional business letter, using standard font types.
- Make sure that your letter is error free. Proofread it several times, run the spelling and grammar check, and ask a friend to review it.
- Tailor your cover letter for each position. The format of the letter may stay the same; however the content of it will most likely change as each position is slightly different.
Updated Oct. 23, 2012