Two important documents generally compose a preliminary application for a professional position, which are a cover letter and a resume. This article is about what a good cover letter is and how to go about writing it. The resume which is a more detailed presentation of the qualifications of a job applicant is much longer than the cover letter, which in effect summarizes the resume of an applicant and at the same time briefly tells why he is applying for the job.
While the resume is a somewhat generic and detailed advertisement for yourself, the cover letter is different in that it allows you to tailor its tone to the specifics of the job that you are applying for. Although the thrust and intent of your various cover letters may remain the same, with the many text-processing options now available you can have several sets of your cover letter with still the same purpose – to catch the attention of your prospective employer.
Good and effective cover letters are constructed with close attention to the following:
The purpose of your cover letter and resume usually is to provide all the information which a prospective employer needs for him to decide whether or not you will reach the next phase in the application process – the job interview. The immediate goal you are after in a job application process is that job interview and hopefully a job offer.
It is in the cover letter that you can gain the attention of an audience to go over your resume. The resume is more detailed but you need the cover letter to make people read out the details in the resume of what you are as a person and as a job applicant.
An effective cover letter provides, in a very real sense, an opportunity to let your prospective employer to hear and learn about you as it is supposed to reflect your personality, your communication skills, your enthusiasm for work, your intellectual capacities, and your specific interest in the company to which you are sending the letter. Thus, cover letters should be written and tailored to each specific company you are applying to after you should have conducted enough research to know the interests, needs, values, and goals of each company.
A cover letter is addressed to the specific company and the specific individual who will process your application. Some job advertisements include information on the contact person for the job ad, meaning that you can address your cover letter to that contact person for immediate attention.
The letter should specifically mention the position for which you are applying and indicate your knowledge of and interest in the work the company is currently doing, and your qualifications and relevant experience for the position.
Your cover letter should also highlight the most important and relevant accomplishments, skills, and experience listed in your resume and specifically mention that more detailed information are in the resume, and include a request for a specific follow up, like a job interview
A cover letter should be conversational and formal in tone and in paragraph form for easy read by the addressee. The first paragraph should be brief, stating what job you are applying for and how you learned about it. You may mention any personal contacts you have in or with the company and your general qualifications for the job. It may help your cause when you mention that particular contact within the company as the hiring manager may ask advance information about you from him.
The concluding paragraph of your letter should include a request for an interview and state where and when you can be reached. You can use that friend of yours already with the company as a messenger the employer can use to contact you. You can end your cover letter by thanking the reader for his time in reading your letter.