Writing a cover letter is often more difficult than writing a resume. A book that will include several worksheets on writing a resume and provide numerous examples of different types of resumes, will often dedicate only one brief chapter to writing a cover letter. This implies that the cover letter is only an unimportant attachment to the resume. In fact, a cover letter is of equal, if not greater importance.
Cover Letter Quick links
Do I really need a cover letter?
There are two situations when a cover letter is not needed, at a career fair where you hand your resume directly to a recruiter and when you submit a resume to participate in on-campus recruiting. In every other situation a cover letter is needed.
What is the purpose of the cover letter?
The cover letter explains to the reader why you are submitting the resume and why they should be interested in you. It is a persuasive document, designed to convince the reader to read your resume and select you for an interview.
What is the format of a cover letter?
Business letter format: your address, and the date; the name and address of the person you are writing to; a body of text that consists of 3 -4 paragraphs; and a closing salutation. The total length of the letter should not exceed one page. Use a standard closing salutation such as “Sincerely,” then sign your letter with your name typed underneath.
What information should the cover letter contain?
The first paragraph explains why you are writing. Typically this includes stating the position for which you are applying, as well as where you heard about the position. College students and recent college graduates often include their major and graduation date.
The second, third, and on rare occasions fourth paragraphs are your chance to tell the reader how you meet the job qualifications. Use the same terminology that the listing used and explain how you meet the requirements of the position. For example, don’t just state that you have strong leadership skills, give examples of times that you used these skills. You have the opportunity in these paragraphs to talk about your skills and experiences in a more narrative form than the resume allows.
The closing paragraph should include information about the material you are sending with the cover letter, such as a resume, a list of references, or a writing sample. Close the paragraph by asking for an interview or indicating that you will call to make sure that all the necessary information has been received. If at all possible, do not simply state that you look forward to hearing from them. This makes it too easy for the reader to not contact you at all.
Should the cover letter be on the same type of paper as my RESUME?
Yes, your cover letter should be laser printed on the same paper as your resume. The font should be the same and the font size should be similar to that used on the resume.