Cover Letters - Your First Impression!
You should always include a cover letter along with your resume. The cover letter is often the first impression that an employer has of you – a good cover letter will help ensure that an employer then looks at your resume.
Unlike the resume, the employer will probably read every single word of your cover letter. Make these words count! Consider the cover letter the “hook” and the resume the “complete picture” of how you are qualified for the position.
A cover letter is usually no more than one page in length and typically consists of three paragraphs. The first paragraph is an introduction stating why you are writing and how you heard about the position. The second paragraph relates your skills and abilities to the employers needs and shows why you would be the best person for the job. Finally, the third paragraph re-states your interest in the position, thanks the employer for their consideration, and provides the opportunity to request an interview.
When you are writing your cover letter remember the following tips:
- Always write one – a resume that arrives unaccompanied is often dismissed.
- Customize it for the particular employer and posting. If there is one, quote the posting number in the first sentence. Write each letter to the attention of the person in charge of hiring and make sure you spell their name properly!
- Highlight what qualifications you have for this posting. This is a short, well-written summary of what you have to offer this particular employer in a specific capacity. The more distinct you make it the better. Make sure it stands out.
- Always mention something about the company or organization. This shows that you took the time to research and learn about the employer, their values and their business. Keep it subtle and professional while making it clear how your skills and experience mesh with what they are looking for.
- As with your resume, make sure your cover letter is error free. Spelling mistakes and typos will take you out of the running, even if you are the most qualified person for the job. Have someone you trust review your cover letter (someone in the field if possible).
- Do not use tired language in your cover letter – make sure it stands out above the competition.
- Use an easy-to-read and easy-to-scan font with no excessive formatting.
- A cover letter should be typed, unless an employer indicates otherwise.
- Make sure your letter includes your contact information, the job title, the organization name, your qualifications, any additional and relevant skills, a conclusion, and sign-off.
- Make the cover letter longer than one page.
- Use a big word when a small one will do – keep it simple and concise.
- Include too many facts, or facts that are irrelevant to the position.
- Use contractions, slang, or acronyms.
- Use coloured paper or type.
- Include photos or graphics.