Always send a cover letter with your resume even if the company has not specified that you should include one. It gives you a chance to tell the company why you are a good fit for the job. It is also a chance to let them know that you have chosen them and that you are not just randomly submitting your resume. Although a cover letter is meant to help your chances of getting the job, it might hurt your chances if it is not written effectively. Here are some tips for writing an effective cover letter:
- Make sure there are no spelling errors or grammar mistakes. Typos and grammar mistakes are a sign of carelessness, and that might reflect to an employer the type of employee you are. Be as clear as you can without any distractions.
- Address your reader correctly. If you know the name of your intended reader, use it. If you do not know who is going to be receiving your resume, do not specifically address the reader. For example, do not state, “Dear Sir,” since it just as well might be a woman. You might lose all chances immediately! A good way to address your cover letter is by stating, “Greetings.” Keep it friendly, professional, and non-gender related.
- Show them you know who they are. Do some research about the company before submitting your resume. Let the company know you value their work and that you want to be a part of that. Tell them where you heard about the opened position. Always remember to customize your cover letter EVERY time you send it out. It is a sign of laziness to have a generic cover letter and it is usually pretty obvious when you have one.
- Tell them why you are the best choice. Be confident. Let your reader clearly see that you know what they are looking for. Point out your skills and experiences that are directly related to what their requirements are. Whatever skills you match, you might want to put them in BOLD font so they will jump out to your reader. Do not go into too much detail; that is what your resume is for.
- Correct Format. Make sure your cover letter is brief, but just long enough to get across exactly what you want to say. Ideally, it should be only three paragraphs long.
- The first paragraph should state the position you are applying for and where you saw the posting.
- The second paragraph should state why you are the person for the job. This is where you really need to sell yourself. It’s a good idea to use easy-to-follow bullet points to illustrate your skills and experience. Customize this section to what the company is looking for. Do not include irrelevant information; they know what they are looking for so make it easy on them.
- The third paragraph should be a quick, powerful closing. Keep it simple and leave them feeling confident about hiring you.
Be sure all your contact information is on BOTH your resume and cover letter. Be sure to include your email address, especially if you are sending it on line.
Remember your cover letter is the company’s first impression of you. Be sure there are no mistakes and ALWAYS customize the cover letter to exactly what the employer is seeking. However, keep in mind that there is a good chance your cover letter might not make it all the way to the hiring manager. As important as your cover letter is, do not solely rely on all the information in your cover letter to tell your reader why you are the right person for the position. You must also customize your resume to the job you are seeking as well.