Writing a Cover Letter
A cover letter is often an employer’s first impression of you, and it’s an opportunity to showcase excellent written communication skills. A cover letter should be carefully tailored to each different job for which you apply, and content and layout are both important. Besides conveying how you meet key job criteria through your skills and experiences, you should also strive to make a personal connection with the organization—in other words, you should let them know that you don’t just want any job, you want this job within their company. If you take the time to do this, you’ll set a positive tone from the start. Also, if you apply for a position that doesn’t require a cover letter, still submit one to demonstrate that you’re taking the opportunity seriously. This is a solid professional move.
Use the Correct Form
Cover letters should be typed on the same quality paper that you use for your resume, and you should use the same header with your contact information that you use on your resume. The cover letter is formatted like a business letter; it’s uniform and doesn’t change.
Use Simple, Direct Language
Keep the letter short and straightforward—one page if possible.
Address Your Letter to a Specific Person
If at all possible, find out the name of the person who is responsible for hiring, and address the letter to them (keeping in mind the appropriate prefix). Likely, however, you won’t know who’ll be reading your cover letter; in this case, you can write “Dear Hiring Professionals” or “Dear Selection Committee” to address them.
Identify the Employer’s Requirements for the Position
The body paragraphs in your cover letter should link the most crucial skills or qualifications of the job with your own actual experiences in which you successfully honed these skills to achieve favorable results. In this way, you’re telling a story, so provide specific (yet brief) context to make it easier for the hiring manager to grasp how you were excelling. For example, don’t just say that you have great teamwork skills; show that you have great teamwork skills by guiding the reader through a real-life example.