Cover letters are one page documents that you send with your resume when applying for a job. It is meant to:
- Introduce yourself
- Argue why you’d be a good fit for the job
- Fill in places your resume cannot describe
- Further explain other aspects of your resume
By hitting those 4 aspects, your letter can be a convincing and powerful companion to a well-written resume.
1. Contact Information
To begin, include both the employer’s and your contact information ( Names, Address, Phone, E-mail, etc…)
Find out to whom you’re writing
Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes for a second. Would you like to be addressed as “Dear Sir or Madame?” or “To whom it may concern?”
“Dear Sir or Madame” makes you sound like you’re from the year 1865, and “to whom it may concern” is very irritating to hiring managers.
You can easily avoid this problem by doing your research. Look through the company’s website, LinkedIn, or even give the company a call to ask for the hiring manager’s name. Even if you get it wrong, it still looks like you’ve made an effort.
In the first paragraph, begin by telling the employer the position you are applying for and how you learned about the opportunity.
The rest of this paragraph should briefly present basic info about yourself, including: degree, area of study/expertise, and your career goals in terms of how they align with the goals of the company.
3. Sell Yourself
The second paragraph should respond directly to the job description written by the hiring manager. Describe how your previous job experiences, skills, and abilities will allow you to meet the company’s needs. To make that easier, you can (and should) literally include words and phrases from the job description in your cover letters.
To go the extra mile, do some research about the company, and try to find out what they are doing — and why — given the current state of their industry. In a third paragraph, explain how you can fit into that schema, and help push the company forward and achieve any goals you suspect they may have.
The final paragraph is called the “call to action.” Inform them that you’d love to get interviewed. Tell them that you’ll be in contact with them in a week if you don’t hear back. Thank them for spending the time to read your letter.