cover letter is your chance to sell yourself to a potential employer
as the best candidate for a specific position. As such, it's just
as important as your resume. In fact, you should never send out
a resume without one. The most important thing to remember is that
your cover letter serves a separate function from your resume and
should not be used to repeat the details of your resume, such as
work history, education, or personal objectives. The resume is about
you, your experience and your skills. The cover letter is about
what you can do for the employer.
effective cover letter should accomplish three things:
Yourself and Your Reason for Writing
The first paragraph needs to grab the hiring manager's attention.
Say exactly why you have sent your resume: you are interested
in the company and you want to fill a need they have. Demonstrate
your interest by indicating any connections between the employer
and yourself. Show that you work in the same field, that you share
a common professional interest, or that you have been following
the company or industry in the news. If you were referred to the
company by a mutual friend or associate, mention them; the hiring
manager may feel more obligated to respond to your letter. (Don't
profess to know more than you do, however. If you make inaccurate
statements regarding the company or the industry, the hiring manager
will see right through it.) When offering to fill the company's
need, be specific as possible. Don't just mention the job position,
describe what the company requires from that position.
In the second part of the letter state (briefly) the skills you
bring to the table that will specifically meet the employer's
needs. There is no need to go into great detail; your resume should
take care of that. Instead, use this section to highlight how
you will use your talents and experience to benefit the company.
Don't use it to indicate how you think you'll benefit from being
employed--with a stack of resumes on her desk and positions to
fill, the hiring manager isn't concerned with your personal fulfillment.
Keep your use of the personal pronoun "I" to a minimum. Try to
use it in this sense: "Here's how I can help you."
Close the letter by indicating what you would like to happen next.
Don't leave the ball in the employer's court; take action! Tell
the potential employer where you can be reached, either by phone
or by e-mail, but don't wait for a call. Indicate that if you
don't hear from them within a few days, you will follow-up with
a phone call to make sure your resume and cover letter have reached
the intended recipient, and to arrange a face-to-face interview.
Be assertive but polite. (Some job seekers may want to use a paragraph
to explain anything that's not apparent from the resume, such
as large gaps in the employment history.)