Why should you write a cover letter? Especially when you are completing an online application, a cover letter can seem like just one more task. But the cover letter offers an important extra chance to tell an HR person or recruiter more about both your qualifications and interest in the position. ResumeLab – an online resume-building software – has compiled numbers around whether cover letters are useful. This statistic stood out: A great cover letter can help you get the interview- even if your resume is not good enough – 83% of the time.
Information to Include in Your Cover Letter
First, let’s go over what information to include in your cover letter, and then we will review a simple layout. The two main pieces of information you want to put in your cover letter are why are a suitable candidate for the job listing and why you would like to work with the company you are applying to.
- Be Specific: Make sure to list the job you are applying for. Do a little company research online to see who you should address the cover letter so it is not generic.
- Short is Good: Your letter should be no more than one page and doesn’t have to be more than three to five paragraphs.
- Make the Connection: Instead of repeating points from your resume, connect the dots for your reader and show them how your previous experience connects to the job listing.
- Spell Check (x3): Errors on either the cover letter or resume can point to a lack of diligence or a potential inability to communicate effectively – the last impression you want to make with a potential employer. Make sure to take advantage of MS Word’s editor function, download a free software tool like Grammarly, and/or have a friend read it over for you – worth it!
Formatting Your Cover Letter
Now let’s go over formatting. Below is a template for a more formal cover letter. You may be attaching this cover letter as a Word document or PDF as part of an online application. For an attachment, we would recommend saving this as a PDF – that way any formatting remains in place.
The date you are writing the letter
Your Full Name
City, State, Zip Code
Mr. or Ms. Employer
City, State, Zip
Dear Mr. or Ms. Employer,
In this first paragraph name the position you are applying for and where you heard about the opening. Also, If you have been referred to the position this is also the place to explain that connection.
In the second paragraph, use three or four sentences to tell your potential employer why you would be a good fit. Highlight and expand on your related experience, certifications, or training. Let them know why you were interested in this particular position. Maybe it is a chance for career growth, an industry that you are familiar with, a particular skill set you want to expand. This paragraph is the main reason you are writing the cover letter. It allows you to explain why you are applying and how you see yourself succeeding in the position.
Finally, in the third paragraph, use one or two sentences to thank them for taking the time to consider your application. Let them know you would welcome any further questions on your qualifications or an opportunity to interview.
Your name (typed)
That’s all there is to it! The next time an application requests a cover letter, give the above template a try and see if it helps your chances for an interview. We are here to help with your job search – check out our current available opportunities and sign up to be notified of new opportunities too. You can also follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. We post new positions regularly on these platforms.