Cover letters allow you to highlight your unique qualities.
A cover letter is included with your resume to introduce you to the prospective employer. It indicates your interest in the position and is just as important as your resume. Cover letters often highlight how your achievement would make you an ideal candidate for the job. It is an opportunity to sell your skills.
Always send a cover letter with your resume unless the job listing specifically says not to do so. But don't use a generic one. Each letter must be targeted for each job posting.
What to Include in Your Cover Letter
- Heading and greeting. Include the date, your name, and your contact information. Address the letter to a specific person whenever possible. If you can't find an individual's name, use the job title of the recipient (Maintenance Supervisor, Office Manager), or perhaps "Human Resources" or "Search Committee." Do not address your letter to a business, a department, or "To Whom It May Concern."
- Opening and introduction. Explain who you are and your reason for writing, including how you found out about the position. Use the first paragraph to express your energy, enthusiasm, skills, education, and work experience that could contribute to the employer's success.
- Body. Sell yourself. Reveal why you are a perfect and unique match for the position. Explain why you have chosen the employer. Briefly summarize your talents, experience, and achievements.
- Assertive closing. Thank the person for taking the time to read your letter. Use an appropriate closing, such as "Sincerely." Tell the employer how you plan to follow-up.
For layout and format suggestions, visit the Types of Cover Letters page. Try to keep your entire letter to one page with three to five paragraphs.
Cover Letter Writing Tips
Be Confident, Positive, and Focused
- Target your letter to the audience and industry.
- Be positive about your current employment situation and professional future.
- Emphasize what you can offer the employer.
- Express your focused career goals.
- Don't use empty or unproven claims about your abilities.
Be Concise, Accurate, and Polite
- Keep sentences short and to the point.
- Write in a professional tone.
- Keep the letter to one page.
- Proofread your letter thoroughly.
- Thank the reader for his or her time.
- Sign your cover letter. Blue ink is best to show the letter is an original.
If you are applying for a job through the mail, send it first class. Use a 8 1/2 x 11 flat envelope so you don't have to fold your cover letter and resume. A larger envelope keeps the documents flat and crisp.
Source: Creative Job Search, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.