When it comes down to a job, sometimes the tiniest of things can make a huge impact. Cover letters may not be important to some or even required by some employers but a well written cover letter can leave a huge first impression on your employer. This is the first thing that will be read by the employer and determines whether they even consider looking at your résumé or not. Included here are a few tips to helping you along to creating a cover letter that future employers will want to read.
A cover letter is a document that introduces and sells yourself by providing information on skills and experiences of a job seeker to be submitted alongside a résumé. Cover letters are not typically required by employers and may or may not be reviewed by hiring managers but including one could allow the job applicant to set them apart from others. A good cover letter is one that is catered specifically to the employer and the position you are applying for. Writing a cover letter in this manner allows a person to demonstrate how his or her skill sets and experiences match up with the requirements of the position.
There are several specific things that should be included in every cover letter:
1. Be specific – you want to be sure to include the company name and address for which you are applying as well as the name of the position you are interested in. Include the name of the person within the company that will be reviewing your cover letter and résumé. This shows that you actually took time out to research information on the company and therefore exhibiting a genuine interest in the company versus just a generic inquiry. Stay clear of generic labels such as “Dear Sir/Madam” and “To Whom it May Concern”.
2. Keep it short – cover letters should be a half a page to a page in length at the most so it is important to use this space to describe how your skills and work history match with the requirements of the position. You do not want to restate what is written in your résumé but rather highlight what specific skills from your work history will help you excel in the position you are applying for. Using the space in such a manner shows gives employers a chance to get to know you without taking up too much of their time and it also makes you stand out to employers as someone that is a good fit for the position by showing how you fit their requirements for the position. You should also make sure that your grammar and spelling is correct to ensure that the letter maintains a professional tone; you want to allow the employer to get to know from a professional standpoint, not personal.
3. Set expectations – you should always include your plan of action at the end of the cover letter. Include your contact information and the best times that you can be contacted at the closing of your cover letter. If the employer includes a contact number or email address along with the position, use this to your advantage. Unless they state that you are not to contact them directly, let the employer know that you will be contacting them at the number or email address provided as well as the time frame in which you plan to do this. This shows that not only are you serious about your inquiry but that you are able to set and meet expectations. It is important to actually follow up with them within the time frame that you set.
Following these important guidelines might end up getting you a job one day in the future or if nothing else at least an interview with the recruiter. Cover letters are important in helping to get you in the door and in person so that you can make a physical presence to prove that you are the right candidate for the job.
Nichole Stewart is a current student at the University of South Florida. She is going for a Bachelor”s Degree in Finance and has been attending University of South Florida since Fall 2009.