Cover-Letter Writing 101
Pay Attention To The Basics And They'll Pay Attention To You
By Maureen Bauer
Human Resources Professional
For many of us, the Internet has made searching for a job much easier. We are now able to research companies on the Web and we are often able to apply for work online.
However, with this move toward Internet recruitment, I have found that many individuals are becoming quite informal in their approach.
Most of the resumes that I receive online are accompanied by a one- or two-line e-mail. Many times, I will receive an e-mail that simply states, "resume attached," with no further explanation.
It appears that many people believe sending a cover letter is a thing of the past. Yet most employers still appreciate a cover letter, and including one with your resume might help to set yourself apart from the competition.
Here are some tips for creating an effective cover letter:
Begin with an introduction.
For example, if responding to an ad for an office manager in a nonprofit organization, you might start with: "I am writing in response to your advertisement in 'Now Hiring' for an office manager.
I feel my management experience and office skills would make me an excellent candidate for this position."
Include an overview of your qualifications.
Given the limited space, highlight two or three major skills that are related to the requirements of the position. For example, because this position requires management skills, one area you might emphasize is your previous experience in coordinating a community fund-raiser.
Building on the introduction above: "While personally coordinating ABC's community fund-raiser, I gained experience in managing and motivating a diverse group of people."
If possible, go on to specifically state how each skill relates to the position for which you are applying. In this case, the ad stated that the opening is with a nonprofit organization. You might continue: "This project gave me valuable insight into being an active member of a nonprofit team."
Explain your work availability.
Many applicants do not include this type of information, but explaining your intentions can help to land you an interview. You may include pertinent information such as why you're interested in changing positions/careers, your relocation plans and your target date of availability.
If you're currently employed, state why you're looking for work and the duration of notice you'd like to give your employer. If you're not currently employed, state why you left your last position and when you'd be available to begin work.
Include a closing paragraph.
Remember to thank the employer for considering your resume and request an interview. This can be as brief as: "Thank you for considering my resume for your office manager position.
I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you in person to further discuss my qualifications."
After completing your letter, it's crucial to carefully proofread your work. Mail merges have made multiple letter writing easier, but be sure to check that all company information is correct. More than once I have received a well-written cover letter in which the applicant states that he or she would like to work for someone else.
It won't matter how outstanding your cover letter might be if it states that you'd love to work for a competitor!