Cover Letter Tips

A well-written cover letter adds a personal, humanistic touch to your resume. It coveys the message that you are a serious, professional candidate. Cover letters also demonstrate your written communication skills. They do so even better than your accompanying resume as cover letters are written with standard sentences more aligned with the way we actually speak. To maximize the impact of your candidacy for employment, below you will find some cover letter tips.

For almost all types of positions, a cover letter is expected. Send it along with each resume—even if a job advertisement simply says “send resume” without mentioning a cover letter. Sometimes a short cover note works well instead of a full cover letter. Short cover notes are sent in the body of an email message with the resume attached.  For a cover note, concisely state what job you are interested in and tell the employer some of your key qualifications.

  • For a longer, more traditional approach, your cover letter can either be attached as a separate document, just like your resume, or your cover letter can be cut and pasted to form the ‘body’ of the e-mail. I recommend the latter, unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise.
  • When you send a cover letter or a cover note within the body of an email, do not type the date or inside address on the e-mail screen. If you can include your signature electronically, do so.
  • Detective work to unearth the name of the hiring manager is a good idea. This enables you to address cover letters more personally.
  • Watch out for repetitive language. Don’t start too many sentences with the word “I.”

Write Engaging Cover Letters

Great cover letters can truly make you stand out.  Conversely, ordinary cover letters underwhelm employers and poorly written ones will do more harm than good. Each cover letter that uses tired language sounds just like the prior one and does nothing to entice a manager to read on.  Furthermore, cover letters that recapitulate a lot of what has already been written in the resume, waste your reader’s time. 

The solution to this problem is to write something truly unique. What if you started by referring to trends in this employer’s industry? or by congratulating this employer for a recent success in launching a new product? Or what if you opened your letter with a question that was so relevant and perceptive that it instantly raised the employer’s curiosity about you? Additionally, or alternatively, displaying a sense of humor is another clever touch.  

Sample Cover Letter | Cover Letter Template

A cover letter starts off in standard letter-writing style with the date and the inside address at the left margin. A sample cover letter is shown below so that you can see how the page is properly formatted. 

Cover Letter Greeting

Dear Hiring Manager: (which is much preferred over “To Whom It May Concern,” but not as good as addressing a person by name.)

Body of the Cover Letter

The body of the cover letter is generally 3-5 paragraphs in length. The first paragraph is introductory. Its goal is to identify you as a person seeking employment for a specific type of job. If appropriate, this is the place to mention that you have been referred to this employer by a mutual acquaintance.

In the next one, two, or three paragraphs, tell your reader why you should be selected for an interview. What skills do you possess that are important for this type of work? What personality traits do you possess that dovetail with the demands of this position? What schooling or professional training have you acquired which give you the knowledge this job requires? These are just some ideas. Think hard about what makes you a great applicant and share it. As you tie your credentials back to this organization’s particular needs, it becomes immediately obvious that your cover letter is a custom communication that took some effort. (Employers like to see effort!)

While you are writing all of this, keep in mind that what you share needs to be new and fresh, don’t repeat what is already stated on your resume. This is often the biggest challenge of writing a great cover letter. Another challenge is getting the tone of the letter right. Strive for a confident but not pretentious voice.

Cover Letter Closing

Close the letter with a final paragraph that requests a meeting or interview. If you are willing and able to call as a follow-up to your resume, indicate that you will do so. If not, close the letter by thanking the reader for their consideration and stating that you look forward to hearing from them. End your letter with “Sincerely,” “Cordially,” or “Yours truly,” and sign your name with pride (or digitally sign it, or just type it, if you are sending electronically).

Sample Cover Letter

Date

Name, Title Street Address City, State Zip

Dear Hiring Manager:

I am writing to introduce myself as a candidate for a senior marketing manager position with your company. I have substantial experience and a solid employment history, which includes promotions during my tenure with two global businesses.

My accountability as a marketing professional includes developing digital campaigns, which have resulted in doubling my employer’s market share. I have also negotiated co-advertising arrangements with complementary businesses to capitalize on current trends in co-branding. It may also interest you to know that my tech skills include WordPress and I have assumed a hands-on role in the rebuild of my employer’s e-commerce website. Furthermore, I excel in creating novel sales promotions, one of which has been an improved loyalty program that signed up 5,000 customers in the first three months. To accomplish the above and much more, I manage a marketing budget of $500K/annually and spend that money judiciously to get maximum return-on-investment. 

While working hard to distinguish myself, I am proud of the special assignments that have come my way, which include addressing audiences at international trade shows and participation on the Executive Council for Corporate Innovation. Furthermore, my ability to exercise leadership in product development has also been acknowledged by senior management at several of the company’s subsidiaries.

For your review, I include my resume. The opportunity to speak with you to discuss my qualifications in further detail would be appreciated. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Your Name Here

 

 

If you would like assistance with writing a great cover letter, send me your resume and information about the opportunity you seek, and I can give you a quote. Use the contact us page for this purpose or you may email me with your resume attached.