Understand that the main purpose of your cover letter is to persuade the reader to take a look at your resume. Your cover letter sets the tone for your readers to get to know you, what you are capable of doing, and why you are the best candidate for the job. Your cover letter should always accompany your resume when you submit it to potential employers so that the recipient will have a general idea of what lies ahead in your resume. Actually, you should craft your cover letter to fit the job you are targeting. Use pertinent keywords as well. Keep in mind though, that a poorly written cover letter is a turn off to the reader…and they won’t even attempt to read your resume. Conversely, a well-crafted cover letter will grasp the attention of the reader and thus, persuade him/her to proceed forward to read the resume that accompanies the cover letter.
Bottom line, not only should you market yourself in your resume, you should do the same in your cover letter as well. Your cover letter should be well written and free from spelling typos and grammatical errors. And by all means, compose an original cover letter for every different job you apply to. A hiring manager can detect a duplicate cover letter immediately. Your cover letter is the first point of contact a recruiter and a hiring manager will see, and hopefully, for your sake, it will not be the last thing he/she will see. Writing and submitting an effective cover letter can, no doubt, help open the door for an interview with a prospective employer. Here are steps and guidelines for writing a persuasive cover letter.
- Header~ Type a header at the top of your paper, include your name, address, phone, and email address.
- Current date~ type in the date you will submit your documents, then space down twice for the salutation.
- Salutation~ you want to properly address the individual who has influence in the hiring decision. Correctly type the individual’s first and last name, appropriate title, the company name, and address. If you are not sure who to address the letter to, call and ask. Or go online to the company’s website to locate the name and the correct spelling. Space down twice, and type Mr. Or Ms. Followed by his/her last name. Example, Dear Ms. Block: Space down twice and begin typing your opening paragraph.
- Opening paragraph~ connect with your reader by referring to the position you are applying for, how you found out about the opening, and why you are interested in working for this particular company. Find out as much as you can about the company to obtain impressive information to include in your letter. You can briefly mention something remarkable and/or specific details about the company in your opening paragraph.
- Body~ the body of your letter should reflect your resume. You will need to study the job ad for details about the job; somehow, incorporate this information in your letter. Passionately mention your background, qualifications and skills as they relate to the job you are applying for. You must convince the reader that you are the best candidate for the job.
- Closing~ and finally, close your letter by thanking the reader for his/her time. You should also request an interview for the job at the employer’s earliest convenience. End by referring the reader to your enclosed resume. Space down twice.
- Complimentary closing~ type Sincerely yours or other complimentary closing. Space down four and type your name. If you are mailing your resume or submitting by hand, be sure to sign your name (black ink) in between your name and the complimentary closing.
Your letter should be no longer that one page. If your letter, after you’ve composed it, is more than one page, you will need to do some critiquing. You don’t want to bore your readers; you want to invite them to read your resume. So…you will need to remove irrelevant information and/or shorten too wordy and lengthy sentences. Your content should be brief and on target, while communicating a persuasive argument to the readers.
* Paper for your cover letter should match resume
* Use white or cream fine typing paper
* Have a professional proofread your letter before you submit it
* For a more professional looking resume, use block format
Note: When applying for jobs online, some employers list cover letter as optional. Even so, you should send one to stand out from the other applicants.
See sample resume-block style below, courtesy of careerperfect.com