A well considered cover letter is essentially a sales letter about you and can often mean the difference between a quick glance or a careful reading of your resume. Use your few seconds with the recruiter wisely. Customize each letter to the specific needs of the employer so they will choose to read it.
A well-written cover letter
- illustrates the time you have invested in researching the company
- tailors your qualifications to the specific opportunity available
- reflects your personality, your attention to detail, your communication skills, your enthusiasm, and your professionalism
Cover Letter Suggestions
Address the cover letter to a specific person if possible. If you cannot identify an individual consider the following:
- Dear Hiring Manager
- Dear Human Resource Manager
- Use a subject line in place of the salutation such as APPLICATION FOR THE SOCIAL SERVICES POSITION
- Do not say "Dear Sir/Madam" or "To Whom It May Concern"
Keep it brief. Limit the letter to one page of 3–4 paragraphs. The purpose of a cover letter is to highlight select information from your resume that makes you uniquely qualified for the position, not to repeat the entire resume.
Put yourself in the position of the recipient. Capture their attention from the start! Try to downplay "I" and "me" and emphasize the reader by using the word "you" as often as possible. Make your accomplishments and skills the subject of your sentences and focus on the recipient by emphasizing what these can contribute to the reader's organization.
Pay attention to detail. Employers want employees who write well, and your writing skills are displayed in your cover letter. Professional letter writing assumes no grammar, spelling, or typographical errors. Ask someone to proofread your letter for content, clarity, and correctness. Use plenty of white space and an easy-to-read font.
Consider putting the cover letter in the body of an email. When applying for most positions today the application process calls for you to email your resume. If so, you may want to include the points you would make in your cover letter directly in your email. If you are doing this you will not necessarily need to use the formal business style (with your address, date, company address). However, if you use email, still be sure to use professional language. Print it out before sending and read it carefully to make sure that the communication is error-free. With email it is easy to get sloppy, but you cannot afford to do be lax as your goal is to make a good first impression.