Resume Cover Letters
A cover letter is the first impression a hiring professional will get of you. Your cover letter must be well-written and follow resume cover-letter formatting so it will not be ignored.
A cover letter is basically an introduction to your resume. The objective of a cover letter is to explain the reason you are applying for a specific job and to arouse the recruiter's or hiring manager's interest in reading your resume. The fact that you have taken pains to write a cover letter specifically tailored to the position you're applying for will indicate that you are serious about the vacancy.
As a prelude to your resume, a cover letter should include snippets of information about your strong points and why you are an excellent "fit" for the job. Do not mention anything about your need for the job; instead tell the reader how you can add value to the company. Briefly mention your experience and academic qualifications if they are relevant. If possible, include brief quantitative information to catch the reader's attention. Do not mention salary unless the job posting has specifically requested your salary requirements. Even then you might state that you would prefer to discuss it at the interview table.
Resume cover letters are usually short, with no more than four or five concise paragraphs. Always proofread the cover letter and check it for spelling and sentence construction errors. The cover letter should be neatly typed and formatted appropriately. If you are sending it via email, avoid heavy formatting that may not be read by all word processors.
If you are not confident about writing a cover letter and/or a resume on your own, there are companies recommended on this site who will do it for you.
These companies use professionals who are aware of the requirements that vary with the industry. Alternatively, you can take a look at the sample cover letters and cover letter tips that are available on our site and structure your letter based on them.
Cover Letters: Your First Chance to Impress
Hiring managers routinely receive responses from hundreds, perhaps thousands, of applicants for any given job. To avoid having your resume sink in this sea of paper, it's imperative to write a cover letter that stands out from the crowd and makes a good first impression.
A compelling cover letter that follows five essential rules will convince a hiring manager to read an applicant's resume.
Rule #1 -- Appearance
The resume and cover letter must be aesthetically pleasing and consistent in appearance. This would include using the same heading and fonts in each, both produced on a high-quality printer and paper (if documents are being "snail-mailed"). Save the designer stationery and stylish fonts for writing letters to friends. A professional employment package never sets a casual tone.
Rule #2 -- Target Your Audience
Always use the hiring manager's name in the salutation. If the contact's name isn't provided in the job posting, a bit of Internet research or a well-structured phone call can produce results. In using the contact's name, the cover letter is personalized, while also showing the applicant's interest in the company. Remember, a letter addressed "Dear Sir or Madam" or worse, "To Whom It May Concern," has the same impact as one addressed "Dear Occupant."
Rule #3 -- A Strong Opening
A dynamic opening paragraph is essential to capture and retain a hiring manager's interest. Pared down to basics, for a quick and effective read, it should include a reference to the position sought and a brief statement as to why the applicant feels qualified to fill the job. Emphasis should always be placed on what the applicant can do for the targeted company, while also providing quantifiable proof as to why this is true.
Rule #4 -- Showcasing Accomplishments
Include a bulleted area to emphasize accomplishments pertinent to the targeted job. Not only does this break up large blocks of text that a hiring manager might find daunting, but it also draws the eye towards the most important part of the cover letter -- what the applicant has to offer.
Rule #5 -- A Proactive Closing
Always initiate further action at the end of a cover letter. A proactive closing indicates that the applicant will call within a few days to see if a time might be scheduled to meet. To wait for a hiring manager to take that first step is to risk losing the opportunity to another candidate.