What is a Cover Letter?

Nov 27, 2016

The cover letter, an often underrated component of the job application process, is a document that usually accompanies your resume in an application. It is a part of the job application process that lets you showcase your personality and skills, and it’s your one critical first impression to employers.

Tips and Tricks

· Remember that your cover letter is not a letter asking/begging for a job, it is a letter highlighting why you are qualified/suitable/a good fit/ capable for a job.

· A cover letter is personal to you, and your writing should reflect this by giving examples of your relevant skill set and how you have applied it so far.

· Don’t be afraid to showcase your personality! Nothing is as unmemorable as a bland cover letter.

· Try to be as concise and to the point as possible.

· Only highlight the important parts of your resume.

· Don’t fall into the trap of sending the same cover letter to each company. Each position at different companies have slightly different requirements, even if the job title is the same, and your cover letter should reflect that.

· Make sure to always follow up.

Components of a Traditional Cover Letter

Contact Information (yours)

At the upper left hand corner of your cover letter, or in the form of a header, include your contact information (i.e. name, address, phone number, email).

Date

It’s generally a good idea to include the date underneath your contact information with one line of space in between.

Contact Information (theirs)

Include the recruiter or recipient's contact information right below the date. It’s generally a safe bet to include their name, title, department, company name and address.

Salutation

Start your letter off with a greeting of your choice! If you can’t address your letter to a specific person, “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To whom it may concern” should work.

Introduction

Have an introductory paragraph that introduces yourself, the job that you are applying for, and how you learned about the opening. This is a very crucial part of the cover letter. Because you have most of the recruiter’s attention at this point, so make sure you do a good job with a short but memorable introduction.

Body Paragraph(s)

Your body paragraphs should detail your skills and experience, and prove to your potential employer that you are a good fit for the company. It may be a good idea to look at the job requirements, and draw connections between your skills and the requirements in the description. Make sure that you don’t detail every item on your resume. Pull the important information out from your resume, expand on it, and detail why that experience is relevant to the job description.

Concluding Paragraph

The concluding paragraph is the paragraph in which you would indicate how you would follow up, state how they can reach you via email or phone, and thank the employer for their time. If you promise to follow up, make sure you do!

Closing

Sign off with a closing of your choice! Depending on the company that you’re applying to, you can make the call on how formal your closing needs to be. Everything from “Sincerely” to “Cheers” is fair game.

Additional Reading:

· Cover Letters That Don't Suck