Many people who are out in the world job hunting focus all of their efforts on constructing the perfect resume. Clearly it’s important to have a resume that reflects the best of you. After all, it doesn’t matter if you are perfect for the job if the hiring manager isn’t impressed enough to call you in for an interview. However, the piece that is often overlooked is the importance of the cover letter. This post is about writing a good cover letter, one that will get the hiring manager to take the next step and look at your resume.
While it’s true that your resume is what should open the door to an interview, in many cases, it’s your cover letter that first has to open the door to get your resume read. In some aspects, the cover letter is a summary of your resume, it’s your 30-second “elevator speech”. You have just a few moments to impress the hiring manager, and when you know how to write a cover letter, that is just what you’ll do.
How to Write a Cover Letter
There is a very specific structure to writing a good cover letter, and here are the critical pieces.
This is the opening line of your cover letter. The key here is to be as specific as possible. If you know the name of the hiring manager, use “Dear (name),”. Be sure to include “Mr.”, “Mrs.” or “Ms” as appropriate.
If you don’t know their name, use their job title. For example “Dear Hiring Manager”, etc. If you have no idea who will read your cover letter, you can use “To Whom It May Concern”. However, this should be a last resort because it indicates you are sending a blind letter to anyone who happens to read it.
The next piece of writing a good cover letter is the first paragraph. In this paragraph, you should tell them why you’re writing and tell them what job you are applying for.
Writing the body of the cover letter is the key to making it great. When you’re writing a cover letter this is where you are going to convince the hiring manager to look at your resume.
You should limit this section to 1-2 paragraphs and should be very specific. In his section you should tell them:
- Why you are qualified
- How your experience and history fit the requirements of the job
- Why you want to work for them
This section should be as specific as possible. Everything you mention about the your skills and history should be specifically tailored toward the job opening. If this section is generic, it will look just like everyone else’s. Make sure that this section of the cover letter clearly communicates what makes you different. You should also make sure that your resume backs up what you’re saying.
When writing a good cover letter, the last paragraph should be a wrap up. In this section you should include a single sentence reminding them why they should hire you. Then make sure to provide your contact information and thank them for their time.
The final part of your letter is the closing. This should be a simple and respectful statement. The most common option is “Sincerely, (name)”
Proofread and Spell Check
When you’re writing a good cover letter, you aren’t done when it’s written. The critical last step is to use a spell checker to be sure you don’t have any careless mistakes. The goal of your cover letter is to impress the hiring manager, and spelling mistakes definitely won’t do that.