If you’re like how I used to be, you think that cover letters are optional and aren’t a big deal—all you need is a strong resume, right? Not really. Cover letters are just as important as resumes, and should be included with every resume that you send to an employer. A cover letter allows you to go more in depth about the skills and experiences you list on your resume, so it is important that you put as much thought into a cover letter as you do a resume. There are multiple parts to a cover letter:
Your Contact Information: your name, address, email address, and phone number
5000 Perryview Road
Month, Date, Year
November 1, 2011
Employer’s Contact Information: Employer’s name, the title of the person of which the cover letter is addressed along with the company or organization name, employer’s address
Senior Recruiter, Walmart
4567 Woodlawn Drive
Dear Ms. Brookfield:
Body (Three Paragraphs)
- Explain why you are writing: informs the employer of your interests and intentions
- State how you found out about the position: allows the employer to know which of their advertising methods work
- Briefly describe your skills: provides a preview of your qualifications that you will explain more in the second paragraph
This is probably the most important paragraph, so seriously focus on demonstrating your knowledge about the company and how you would serve as an asset for them. Use the company’s job posting, along with their mission statement or overview as the foundation for your cover letter. Often times, companies create job postings with detailed explanations of the qualifications and traits desired in their ideal applicant—use these same keywords in your cover letter to show that you are exactly what they are looking for. Be sure to relate these qualifications to your own professional and academic experiences. For example, a company might say that they need someone who can multitask under pressure and is devoted to excellent customer service. To show that you meet these qualifications, you might say: I am committed to exceptional customer service and after being a part-time student, volunteering weekly at the YMCA, and working 30 hours a week at Target, I know how to manage high-stress situations efficiently, while producing quality work and service. This provides a detailed explanation of how your skills and experiences will benefit the company as well as how you embody the company’s values. Regardless of what qualifications you choose to stress from your resume, be sure to relate everything to what the company is looking for, your experiences, and how your skills will enhance the company.
Briefly restate your interest in the position and when you are available for employment. You may also want to state that you will follow up with the employer on a certain date to see if they have any questions about your application or qualifications. Also, provide your contact information (email address and phone number) again, and thank them for their consideration.
While a cover letter is only one page, tailoring it to a specific job posting to showcase your abilities takes time. However, the time you spend crafting your cover letter into a document that greatly illustrates traits and experiences that make you the ideal applicant is worth it—and just might get you an interview.