Cover Letter Must Haves
Before we discuss what your cover letter should contain in order for the employer to take notice and review your resume, it is critical that understand the importance of having a cover letter. The most commonly made mistake in resume submissions is not including a copy of your cover letter.
If you are emailing your resume, the cover letter can be included in the body of the email, or attached (although employers typically prefer no attachments in email submissions). If you are faxing or mailing your resume, assure that the cover letter comes before the resume. Omitting a cover letter from your job application appears unprofessional to your potential employer; having a well-written, personalized cover letter allows the employer to get an insight into who you are, how you communicate and how you present yourself as a professional.
Here are some great tips on composing a winning cover letter to accompany your resume:
- Address the letter to the appropriate person. The biggest mistake professionals make is not taking the time to address their cover letter to the appropriate person, such as the recruiter or the hiring manager. Take the time to address your cover letter to the appropriate person; if the job description does not include a person as a contact, take queue from the text and address the letter to the team listed as the contact. Using generic lines, such as “To whom it may concern,” is not acceptable on a cover letter.
- Know what the goal of your cover letter is and express it clearly, and concisely. Sell yourself in the best possible light; make sure that you sound confident professional in your cover letter. Concentrate on the positives, and highlight those qualifications that make you a perfect candidate for the job. Even if you are insecure in your qualifications, or feel that you may be slightly under-qualified for the job, put your best foot forward.
- Customize your cover letter to the position you are applying for. It is very important that your cover letter address why you are the best person for the job you are seeking. This includes indicating the job title in the cover letter. Generic statements, or statements indicating that you are interested in any open position with the company, make you appear unprofessional and unprepared.
- Answer these two questions: why do you want this particular job, and what can you do for the company? These two questions must be addressed in the cover letter in order to let your employer know that you are serious about your interest, that you have considered the opportunity and how it fits with your professional goals, and what you are willing to bring to the table in order to benefit the organization you want to work for.
- Proof your cover letter. Errors and misspellings leave a poor impression on the employer.
- Close the cover letter by indicating to your potential employer when you intent to follow up on your application. Do not end the letter with a statement that leaves it up to the employer to call you at their convenience. Let the employer know that you want to follow up, when and how you will do so. This confirms your interest in the position, and your professional etiquette. Note, you must follow up when and how you indicated on the cover letter.