A cover letter is a document sent with your resume to provide additional information on your skills and experience. The letter typically provides detailed information on why you are qualified for the job you are applying for. There is a specific format to follow, however.
Before you begin, do a little research on the company and find out who the hiring manager is. Make sure you address the cover letter to that person, rather than a generic “sir/madam” or “to whom it may concern.” The attention to detail will be appreciated.
Starting Your Cover Letter
The correct format of a cover letter is to begin with the contact information you’ve collected on the company. Add your own information below this. Even if the info is on the actual resume, it’s a good idea to include it on the cover letter, as well. If the two pieces of paper are separated, they can still contact you easily.
Write the Introduction
The intro paragraph should start off with a little personal information. Who are you? How did you find out about this position? Giving the basics right up front will help the hiring manager get to know you a bit before reading on.
This first paragraph should also cover what your area of expertise is and possibly where and what you have studied. Share your career goals in brief, relating them to the job at hand. While the intro paragraph should not be long, it needs to convey at least enough information for the reader to decide if they should bother reading the rest of the letter.
Give More Details
The second and third paragraphs of the letter should also be fairly short. There’s no reason to write a novel when your achievements and past work has all been laid out in the resume, so touch on the highlights.
The second paragraph should focus on the specific experience and education you have that pertains to the job. This is the perfect time to let yourself shine and show why you would be a valuable asset to the company. Ideally, you will use words from the original job posting to highlight your usefulness. If the listing says the company is looking for a creative person who is able to think outside the box, mention that you’re creative and enjoy thinking outside the box.
For the third paragraph, focus on showing how you would fit into the company. From your prior research, you should have a fairly good idea of what they’re expecting and what their goals are (if not, check their mission statement). Let them know that you are in line with those goals and share your ideas for fitting into the company in the required role. Doing this will help the hiring manager imagine you in the position and you are more likely to get hired if you write this section well.
Write a Call to Action
The final paragraph of your cover letter should be the call to action. You want the recruiter to call you in for an interview, so let them know you are available. It’s a good idea to set an expectation for a follow up, as well. For example, you might say that you’ll follow up in a week if you haven’t heard back. Then, make sure you do it. Even if the answer is no, it could be enough to get your resume tucked into the “to hire” file for the next job opening.
Give It a Final Polish
The last thing you want to do is send out a cover letter that has errors in it. Grammatical and spelling mistakes look very bad and recruiters will tend to assume you don’t care much about the job. After all, if you can’t even proofread your document, it must not be very important.
If you aren’t confident in your own abilities to proofread and edit the article, ask a friend to read it over for you. They can make suggestions and edits to help polish the cover letter so that it’s perfect.
Still not entirely sure how to write a cover letter? It can be useful to look at sample cover letters and even work with a template. When you see what other people are writing, it becomes easier to make it your own. See the following cover letter example for a better idea of how to format your own:
Cover Letter Example
Dear Mr./Mrs.__________________(or, company name/to Whom it May Concern),
I was excited to see the job listing on (name job board) for the Assistant Manager position at Marsh Enterprises Advertising. I'd like to introduce myself as a candidate for the position and I look forward to learning more about your company's needs.
I have the blend of experience, skills and attitude to become an integral part of the team at Marsh Enterprises Advertising. My previous positions have included management roles as well as creative roles. Over the past 5 years, I have developed strong skills in print design, web design as well as managing a team of 6 for several successful television ad campaigns. Additionally, I have honed my skills in managing a remote team in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment. Throughout my roles, I have always maintained a team-oriented attitude.
Most recently, my role as an Assistant Manager at Delonzi Advertising has allowed me to build my skills in managing multimedia projects and social media for a top-performing firm. That role also required advanced skills in Microsoft Office and Photoshop. Beyond my work experience, my education also contributes to my candidacy for your open position. I hold a B.A. in writing and an M.A. in business. I believe I possess the right blend of experience, education and personality to bring even more success to Marsh Enterprises.
I would be happy to provide a portfolio featuring some of my previous projects, and references who can attest to my skills in previous positions. I would welcome the opportunity to interview with you at your convenience. Thank you kindly for your time.
(Your signature in blue or black ink)
Your typed name