A cover is a way to add a personalized touch to a job application. A resume provides detailed information about education, work history, and basic skills, but can be fairly “cold,” in that it does not allow an applicant to use a personal voice. By including a cover letter with your application, you can give employers a sense of who you are as a person, to show that you are not only qualified for the job but will fit in well with the company’s dynamic.
There are a number of things that should be included in every cover letter. First, make sure to use the proper heading: place your own contact information in the upper left hand corner, followed by the employer’s contact info. Then, Begin the letter with the proper greeting (e.g., Dear Mr./Mrs./Dr. etc., or “To Whom It May Concern” if no name is available). Make sure the letter itself is no more than two paragraphs, and conclude graciously, thanking the reader for his or her time and noting that you look forward to hearing from the company.
After the initial greeting in your cover letter, clearly state the position for which you are applying. It may also be useful to mention where you found the job listing, since employers and HR departments like to know how people are hearing about open positions. This first paragraph is also a good place to “name drop” any contacts you might have with or inside the company as these kinds of connections can help set your letter apart from the rest.
The main body paragraph of the cover letter should supplement the information you’ve provided in your resume, without reiterating it word for word. Refer to the skills and qualifications that would make you right for the job, but do so in a more anecdotal manner. Provide a specific example or two, or offer some context for the work experience listed on your resume.
A good example of a cover letter might look like the following:
“Dear Mr. Smith,
My name is James Mitchell and I am applying for the position of Account Executive at M&E Marketing, advertised in the Oaktown Journal Online. I have been aware of your company’s presence in the marketing industry for some time, thanks in part to the complimentary descriptions offered by my good friend, Mary Jones, who has worked for you for some time.
It would be a pleasure to work as an Account Executive at M&E, and my skills and experience would make me a perfect fit for this position. As an account consultant at Mitchell Marketing & Co. for the past three years, I have dealt with a variety of different clients, overseeing current accounts while managing to bring in seven new clients in total. I am currently looking for an opportunity that would allow me to advance in the industry, and I would greatly look forward to doing so at M&E, where I will put my customer service skills and proficiency in account management to work for you.”
The cover letter should sign off with your thanks and an encouragement to contact you with any interest. By allowing you to put your best face forward in the most genuine and authentic way possible, this kind of letter can greatly increase your chances of getting called back for an interview.