You’ve spent hours working on your resume, and you’re now confident that it’s going to land you your dream job, or at the very least afford you the opportunity to interview. You’re done, right? No! Cover letters are an often overlooked yet essential factor in positive initial communication with potential employers. In fact, some employers require a cover letter be included with your resume submission. Hiring managers read your cover letter before they read your resume, and you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Here are some guidelines to help you draft an impressive cover letter to supplement your resume:
Section I – Contact Info
Writing a cover letter and submitting the resume you’ve worked tirelessly to perfect is useless if the hiring manager or human resources personnel can’t get in touch with you. For cover letters that you are uploading or direct mailing, be sure to include your name, street address, phone number, and email address at the top of the page. If you are sending your cover letter as a direct email, then include the contact information at the bottom as part of your email signature.
Section II – Salutation
Where is your cover letter going? If you know the name of the hiring manager, human resources personnel, or other employee who will be receiving and reading your cover letter, then be sure to address the cover letter to them specifically. If you find yourself in the position of not knowing your cover letter’s recipient, use a generic salutation. While you should avoid using the phrase “To Whom It May Concern,” some great examples to use are “Dear Hiring Manager” and “Dear Sir or Madam.”
Section III – Body
This section is the most important part of the cover letter. The information that should be included in this section can be easily broken down into three paragraphs.
1. Paragraph I should detail why you’re writing. A great way to start this off is by saying “I wish to apply for _________________.”
2. Paragraph II is where you explain what you have to offer the company. Be specific! This is your opportunity to communicate your qualifications and the relevant experience you have.
3. Paragraph III should detail how you plan on following up with the hiring manager. This paragraph should also include your availability to interview in the future.
Section IV – Closing
The closing section will be your shortest section; take two to three sentences to thank them for their consideration and encourage them to read your attached resume. Close this section with phrases like “Kind Regards,” “Sincerely,” and “Respectfully,” followed by your name and signature. As previously noted, if sending your cover letter in email format and not uploading a document or sending via direct mail, include your contact information after your name.
A few extra things to keep in mind when writing your cover letter:
- Just like with writing your resume, research the company to which you’re sending your cover letter. This will help you understand what you bring to the table regarding the specific organization.
- Keep it short and simple – no longer than one page.
- Your cover letter should compliment, not duplicate, your resume.
- Never use a form letter and substitute the hiring manager’s name. Unlike your resume, cover letters should be written specifically for the position for which you are applying.
Following these guidelines will allow you showcase your skills and experience in the most effective way.
Written by Katie Fidler
Investing in a Lifetime of Success,
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