Can you even think of peanut butter without jelly? Ham without cheese? A well-crafted resume without a cover letter?
Your cover letter – or, more accurately, your cover letter e-mail– is your opportunity to tell your story: the challenges, the triumphs, and the reasons why the employer should invite you in for an interview.
In terms of style, your contact information should be identical to the information on your resume. A cover letter is a business letter, so block formatting is preferred: you include your contact information, the employer’s address, the date, and the contact’s name. If the contact’s name—i.e., the HR person or hiring manager—is not given, attempt to find it. The personal touch enhances your ability to be “real” to the company.
The tone of your cover letter should be optimistic and no longer than one page. Remember, you are telling a story; you want the reader wanting to hear more. A good cover letter consists of three essential paragraphs:
1. The opening paragraph
Tell the reader the specific title of the job to which you are applying. Tie your experiences to the position by telling them why you are applying, why you are the best candidate, and how the company is significant in your decision.
2. The job-matching paragraph
This is where you shine in terms of your education, experience, and other qualifications. Demonstrate to the potential employer how you are genuinely the right candidate by highlighting your accomplishments. Show the employer how you are a good fit by drawing attention to areas of your resume that underscore your match with the employer’s needs
3. Concluding paragraph
Now, bring it home. Sum up your experience and frame it as how you can help the employer achieve their goals. Don’t be afraid to ask for an interview and indicate your enthusiasm and availability.
Take time to craft your cover letter. It will pay off in ways that will make you glad you did!