Alongside your resume, the cover letter is your opportunity to leave a positive impression on potential employers. While this may seem daunting, a cover letter does not need to be lengthy. Three or four paragraphs are enough to grab your reader’s attention. In fact, if a hiring manager is sorting through a large pile of applications, a concise letter can be a welcomed sight.
Header and Contact Information
The header appears in the top left corner of your cover letter and includes any information that makes it easy for the company to contact you. This includes your name, address, phone number, fax number and email address. Place each item on a separate line. Next, include the date in order of month, date and year. Finally, include the employer’s information, including the hiring manager’s name and title, if available, as well as the company’s name and address.
Avoid opening the cover letter with ''To Whom it May Concern,” as this may seem too impersonal, warns CareerBuilder.com. Instead, look for the name of the hiring manager. You can find this information by browsing the human resources section of the company’s website or by calling the company. State the position you are interested in and name the source of your information. If a current employee directed you to the company, name the employee to establish credibility.
Use the body of the cover letter to explain why you are the right candidate for the job. Examples from previous job experiences can be effective, but focus on details that directly relate to the position you want. In addition, avoid mechanically listing your qualifications; that’s a job for your resume. Allow this content to flow more like a short narrative, and reveal an enthusiastic tone. Researching the company or review the job posting again to gain a more thorough understanding of the company’s needs. Incorporate keywords that appear on the company’s website or job posting. This section must address what you can do for the company, not vice versa.
In the closing paragraph, thank the potential employer for reviewing the cover letter. You may also restate your contact information and express your interest in feedback; however, avoid a rambling conclusion. Review and edit the entire letter before sending it to the employer.
Mitch Reid has been a writer since 2006. He holds a fine arts degree in creative writing, but has a persistent interest in social psychology. He loves train travel, writing fiction, and leaping out of planes. His written work has appeared on sites such as Synonym.com and GlobalPost, and he has served as an editor for ebook publisher Crescent Moon Press, as well as academic literary journals.