Is your cover letter as strong as your resume? Cover letters are just as important as resumes, but many job applicants don’t put the same level of effort into them as they do with a resume or do not include one at all when applying for a job. A good cover letter can make the difference between getting an interview and not getting a call back.
Resumes and cover letters have different purposes. A resume focuses on your employment history, while a cover letter expresses why you’re a great fit for the job. A cover letter acts as a way to connect your resume to the job description being advertised. Because a cover letter is written specifically to the job you are applying for, you won’t use the same cover letter twice. You should write a new cover letter for each application.
A good cover letter is brief and direct. The fewer words you can use, the better. A cover letter should be no more than a page, and only 3 – 4 paragraphs long:
- Introduce yourself, name the position you are applying to and explain why you are applying. Include why you are excited to work for the company. Also, write how you learned about the job. If someone who works for the company referred you, this is where you would name him or her.
- One or two paragraphs that make direct connections between the accomplishments and skills on your resume with the stated qualifications needed in the job description. You can be more detailed and specific than you are on your resume, but don’t just repeat your resume bullet points. This is where you get to sell yourself and show what you have to offer the employer.
- Close by thanking them for considering you for the job and show your enthusiasm for getting an interview. Refer them to your attached resume and share how they can reach you to set up an interview.
Some additional tips to remember when writing each cover letter:
- Use a 10-12pt font and single space format, ideally using the same formatting as your resume
- Use conversational, but professional language
- Make sure the content in your resume and cover letter match
- Use a professional sign-off
- Submit it as a pdf doc (not word) and include your full name in the file name
- Make sure to proofread
– A School of Business Program Advisory Board Member, Brian Starr, wrote this post. He has over 10 years of experience in HR.