1. What is the purpose of a cover letter?
The purpose of a cover letter is to expound on your resume. You don’t want to repeat your resume but highlight the most notable things about your career. It is your opportunity to show the research you have done on the company you are interested in and also show some personality and get them to like to you. You want them to be interested enough to want to read your resume.
2. What goes in a cover letter?
A cover letter generally consists of 3 paragraphs.
a) Introduce yourself with a catchy statement and tell how you found out about the job. Mention the specific position that you are applying for. Include research on the company and why you want to work for them.
b) This is where you really sell yourself to the employer. I would suggest that you pick 2 – 3 of your most notable achievements and expound on them using bullets. Be sure to explain how those experiences make you a good fit for the job.
c) You should thank the reader for their time. Specifically mention that you want an interview and then let them know if you will be contacting them or you want them to contact you. If you are ever asked for salary requirements/salary history, it goes in the last paragraph. Give them a range.
3. What if I don’t have a specific person/name to send it to?
There are a number of ways you can handle this.
You can say “Dear Hiring Manager:” or “Dear Internship Coordinator:”
You never say “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam.”
You can skip the salutation altogether and put “RE: Employment” or “RE: Front Desk Manager Position (#45860).”
4. How long should a cover letter be?
3/4 page to 1 page
5. Do I need a different cover letter for each job?
Yes, you definitely need a different one so you can tailor the details to fit each particular job. An employer wants to feel like you want to work specifically for them. So you don’t want to create a generic cover letter and send it out to everybody.
6. What is the best way to send a cover letter?
When e-mailing your cover letter to an employer, copy and paste it directly into the body of the e-mail and attach your resume (PDF) and references (PDF). You want the hiring manager to start reading your cover letter right away as soon as they open the e-mail.
7. Do employers really read cover letters?
It depends on the individual manager. Some say they read them all the time. Some say they haven’t read one in years. If you do # 6 it is kind of impossible for them not to read it.
8. What else should I have with a cover letter?
You should have your resume and references or letters of recommendation. You can denote additional items by including at the bottom after your name “Enclosure: Resume, References.” If you are giving these documents to someone in person, be sure to paperclip them together – not staple – and have your name on each document in case they get separated.
9. If I’m printing my resume on resume paper, does the cover letter need to be on resume paper as well?
Yes, use the same paper to print your cover letter, resume and references or letters of recommendation. It makes you look more polished.
10. Can not having a cover letter keep me from getting a job?
That can only be answered by the individual employer. Not having a cover letter could keep you from standing out among other candidates; thus, keeping you from getting an interview and ultimately getting the job.