When people start their job search, many ask themselves, do I need a cover letter? Cover letters tend to be overlooked in the application process because people do not realize how valuable they can be. If written correctly, they will tell the hiring manager exactly why youre a fit for their position. In comparison to the resume, the cover letter emphasizes your applicable background while the resume explains your entire background.
Think about it like this: if youre watching a football game, youre going to spend 3-4 hours in front of the television and only see a few key plays. Or, you can wait for the highlights on ESPN after the game and watch all they key plays in about 30 seconds. This is the equivalent to the resume and cover letter. The resume is the entire game; the cover letter is the featured highlights.
You want the hiring manager to understand your qualifications in a few sentences, so they feel compelled to dive into the resume for greater detail. Essentially, you are promoting yourself while trying to grab the employers attention. Your number one goal is to sell your resume for the job youre applying to.
Cover letters should be very specific. Each job you apply to should have its own cover letter unless the job requirements are exactly the same for two different jobs. Yes, this means more work for you. But, writing a cover letter is easy once you understand how to use them!
The standard format for cover letters consists of three paragraphs. The first paragraph states the position and location of the job youre applying to with a sentence explaining why youre applying. The second paragraph is the meat of the cover letter, which explains how youre qualified. The third paragraph outlines your availability to speak further about the role.
An example template for each of the main paragraphs is below:
First Paragraph (2-3 sentences):
I am interested in [position] located in [location]. With my past professional experience, I have extensive knowledge in
Second Paragraph (4-10 sentences):
My background qualifies me for this role because [list your applicable background to the job youre applying as related to the job requirements]
Third Paragraph (3-4 sentences):
Please consider my enclosed resume for this position. I am available to interview immediately and can be reached on [phone number]. I look forward to speaking with you further about this position and addressing any questions you have regarding my background. Thank you for the consideration!
People often make the mistake of including too much information on their cover letter. Instead of a few short sentences highlighting their background, they try and include everything. But, thats what the resume is for! The letter should be written with the hiring manager in mind. Do not include information you think they need to know. Include information that applies to the job and will be relevant to the requirements and your qualifications.
Heres a real-life example of a cover letter pertaining to an actual job posting:
Training and Development Coordinator
5-10 years relevant experience developing training programs
Develop presentations, analyze data, report to management regarding training program success
I am interested in the Training and Development Coordinator position located in Portland, OR. With my past professional experience, I have extensive knowledge on theories, principles, and techniques for training adult learners worldwide that qualify me for this role.
I hold a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing. I developed training programs in 15 departments that focused on achieving organizational initiatives through leadership and career development, negotiating skills, and intercultural communication skills. Throughout the training process, I was responsible for developing presentations, learning aids, electronic learning methods, and related materials. Additionally, I created assessments for each training, where I gathered all test data and created reports for management, who then made internal decisions on employee recommendations.
Please consider my enclosed resume for this position. I am available to interview immediately and can be reached on [phone number]. I look forward to speaking further about this position and addressing any questions you may have regarding my background. Thank you for your consideration.
After reviewing the letter, you can see that the same verbiage is utilized in the letter as the job description. The background pertaining to the job is whats highlighted in the second paragraph, which is why you need a cover letter for every job you apply to.
Using the basic three paragraph format makes it easy to reverse engineer the job description into the verbiage on your cover letter. Once you get a few cover letters created, youll be able to make new ones with ease by following these guidelines!
Standard Cover Letter Template
[5 spaces] Contact information
[5 spaces] To whom it may concern (Or, Dear Hiring Manager if you know who will receive your letter):
[First Paragraph] I am interested in the [position] located in [location].
[Third Paragraph] Please consider my enclosed resume
[5 spaces] Your Name
Enclosure [include this line if youre submitting a resume, which you most likely are]