Technology may have changed the way we apply for jobs, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss the value of a cover letter. While your resume serves as a detailed view of your career and skills, the cover letter should be where you zoom in on key skills and experiences that the potential employer values the most. Learn how to write the perfect cover letter and ensure that it gets submitted with your resume and job application.
Step 1: Do Your Research
A customized cover letter with each job application you submit is a must. To do this effectively, you have to first uncover a few details about the company. To start, who will be receiving your letter and application so you know to whom you should address the letter? What skills and experience are asked for in the job description as these are the ones you should aim to highlight.
Next, learn a little about the company and its culture and see how you fit. Who are their main competitors and why are you choosing this company over the competition? Then, check the news sites to see if there are any recent trends or current events either for the company or the industry as a whole that might help convey your interest in the position or that sector.
Step 2: The Basics
Every cover letter should be unique, but each should also cover a few basic points so start to formulate your answers to these questions:
- Which position are you interested in and why?
- What are your most relevant skills and experiences?
- How will your specific skills benefit the employer?
Ensure every letter you write answers these questions specifically and clearly.
Step 3: Structure Still Matters
The days of selecting high-quality paper and adding a personal signature may be behind us, but proper structure should still be followed for a cover letter sent online. Many word processing programs have templates you can follow so there’s no need to fuss with margins and placement; you just need to ensure the content is perfect.
In your first paragraph, explain why you’re writing the letter, the position you’re seeking, and how you learned of the job. In the second paragraph, give a brief summary of your relevant skills and any recent educational pursuits that relate to the position. Remember, your resume will still be attached so stick to only the most important points and be sure to make the connection between what you have and what they want clear.
The third paragraph should demonstrate your knowledge of the company and the industry. Give a few details about why you want to work for that company, how you can bring them success, and why you think you’re a good fit for the company culture and their core values.
Finally, end your letter with a call to action. Mention your availability for an interview or callback, or let them know if you plan on following up yourself with a phone call. Then, always thank the recipient for taking the time to read your letter, and end with a professional closing such as “Sincerely,” followed by your name on the next line.
Step 4: A Few Details
Now that you know what to put in your perfect cover letter, there are a few other details to consider. An unprofessional or super long email address won’t land you any interviews so create a new one if necessary. If you do happen to drop your letter and resume into the mail, be sure to hand-sign the cover letter. Try to avoid cliches such as stating that you’re a team player. Instead, give examples and explanations. Lastly, proofread! Your cover letter should be completely error free, so don’t be afraid to have someone check it for you to make sure it’s truly perfect.
Thanks so much for this. I receive over 100 resumes a year . Generally we are hiring for 3-4 intern positions. I am amazed at how few students include a cover letter at all, much less a good one! I think a cover letter is just as important as the resume itself. I hope people see your article and follow it to a “T”.