Find Employment/Cover Letters
The Cover Letter
A cover letter is sent with a résumé or application form, as a way of introducing yourself to prospective employers. As with your résumé, it may be helpful to look for examples on the Internet or in books at your local library or bookstore, but be sure not to copy letters directly from other sources. Your cover letter should be original, capture the employer's attention, follow a business letter format, and usually should include the following information:
- Name and address of the specific person to whom the letter is addressed.
- Reason for your interest in the company or position.
- Your main qualifications for the position.
- Request for an interview.
- Your home and work telephone numbers.
If you send a scannable résumé, you should also include a scannable cover letter, which is created similarly to a scannable résumé, by avoiding graphics, fancy fonts, italics, and underlines.
Different employers use cover letters in different manners. It is quite common for an employer to first sort through a stack of applicants by reading the résumé and making sure potential employees have the correct qualifications, and after filtering out non-qualified applicants, to then read the cover letters to determine who will get interviews.
In essence, the cover letter says all the things that the résumé can't (or shouldn't) say. The cover letter also provides a forum for discussing some of the issues that are present on your resume. For instance a cover letter allows you to address:
- Prolonged period of missing time in your work history
- Connecting items listed on your resume that may look unrelated to the job at hand (transferable skills)
- A deep passion or dream you have of working in the field you are applying for
- Other selling points that are not addressed well in the résumé
The cover letter also is a good opportunity to request an interview, and mention that you will be making a follow-up telephone call (and you will make this call, if you want the job).
Style of the Letter
The resume is a listing of words and phrases, but the cover letter should be (must be) a formal, business-style letter. It should be broken up into paragraphs, it should contain well-formed sentences, and you should check and double-check your spelling. Running spell-check is not enough for this letter, because the spell-check will not pick up some errors such as "they're and their and there". Many different websites and manuals will specify the paragraph layout of your cover letter, and most of them will even impose some restrictions on your sentence structure. For instance, many resources recommend that sentences be kept short and direct (12 words or so, at maximum). Also, it is generally considered a good idea to use the active voice (as opposed to the passive voice), and to be assertive.