The Cover Letter

I can’t tell you how many times I hear “Nobody uses cover letters anymore” or “Hiring Managers or Recruiters don’t read cover letters”. Well these statements can’t be further from the truth. Cover letters are just and if not more important than they have ever been. You take the time and money to get a great resume together and don’t put any thought into a cover letter. It’s like having a corvette with an empty gas tank an amazing automobile but you can’t drive it anywhere. Personally people who don’t take the time to put a cover letter together are doing an injustice to their job search.

Why Do I Need A Cover Letter?

I’ll be the first to admit that a hiring manager or recruiter doesn’t have the time to fully read every cover letter and resume they receive. I also can’t tell you how many times I looked for a cover letter with a resume to give me insight of a potential candidate’s qualifications. When a company has 2 similar resumes side by side a cover letter can add a voice to your resume and increase your odds of getting that interview.

What Is A Cover Letter?

In the past prior to electronic mail you mailed your resume and enclosed with your resume was a cover letter. A cover letter introduces your resume and gives it purpose, clarity and personality. Remember a cover letter is your “First Impression” and it also gives a look into how well you communicate, so please take the time to write clearly and professionally, avoiding any grammar-spelling errors, jargons and run on sentences. Show enthusiasm, optimism and confidence, but keeping it professional and respectful, there is a thin line where you can sound pompous which can destroy that first impression.

There are generally three types of cover letters

  1. The application letter – which is in response to a published job opening
  2. The prospecting letter – which inquires about a possible positions in a company
  3. The networking letter – this letter is asking for assistance in your job search from a contact you were given.

Each cover letter that you send needs to be crafted specifically for each position/company you apply. Please do not just write a general letter that you change the contact information, these types of letters are in poor taste and will add nothing to your chances of getting that interview. You need to communicate what you can do for the company and how your experience fits with the position they have open.

What Should A Cover Letter Include?

  • Cover letters are preferably only one page.
  • Your font and your name header should match the resume’s to look uniformed.
  • Whenever possible address each employer by name and title the Dear “Sir/Madam” just doesn’t really cut it especially if it’s a prospecting cover letter.
  • You need to do some work and research to try to find the name/title of the person doing the hiring, this effort will go a long way with impressing the person hiring
  • Paragraph #1 – This is your opening paragraph, where you state the purpose for writing; how you learned of the organization or position, and basic information about yourself (your current title, years of experience).
  • Paragraph #2- Tell why you’re interested in the employer or type of work the employer does (simply stating that you are interesting in the position without explaining why will just sound like you used a template letter).
    • Communicate how your understand enough about the company and the open position; relate your background and experience that suit their requirements. Arouses your reader’s curiosity by mentioning points that are important to the position you are seeking
    • Give bullet points of your experience or education that relate to their needs
    • Never state what the position or company can do for you but what you can do for them
    • Your cover letter needs to compliment your resume and not restate your resume
  • Paragraph #3- This is your closing paragraph, indicate that you would like the opportunity to interview for a position or to talk with the employer to learn more about possible opportunities
    • Indicate that your resume is also enclosed with the cover letter and offer to provide additional information if needed (a portfolio, a sample publication, a dossier, an audition tape, a writing sample or even a list of references) and indicate how they can obtain these if needed
    • Thank the reader for his/her consideration and that you look forward to hearing from him/her

The above information for a cover letter can be done as an email with an attached resume. It depends what they are asking for or how you are perusing the company. But make sure you triple check for grammar and spelling errors, a potential employer will not overlook these and will kill your first impression. Also if you are using a previous copy of a cover letter make sure you change all required information. I can’t tell you how many times I received cover letters for a position and it had the wrong company or position in the cover letter and they were not called in for an interview. As mentioned it is best to craft a new cover letter for each job that you are sending a resume.