A cover letter is a very important aspect to the job search. A successful cover letter leads into an effective resume and hopefully a future interview for your dream job. The most important part to composing an effective cover letter is to realize the purpose. A cover letter is made to introduce yourself, usually as a candidate for a job opening. A cover letter should be used to boost your resume and provide an introduction for what is coming next. An effective cover letter can be very useful to the job hunt and potentially separate you from other worthy candidates.
The first steps you should take when constructing your cover letter is to plan out your work and make sure you are extremely professional and your writing is spot-on. Make sure that you do not use any casual abbreviations that may be accepted in e-mails. This is a professional document that must be treated that way. Making simple grammatical errors or awkward statements can differentiate you in a way and potentially ruin your chance for the job. These are mistakes that must be avoided in order to construct an effective message. Another thing to keep in mind is the size of the cover letter. It should be at the very most, one page. It would not be a bad thing to be a little shorter, especially if the company is big. Bigger companies usually have employees who read many documents every day so they would prefer to have short and to-the-point cover letters.
Some people argue that the cover letter should have a lot of explanation on your history as a student and/or employee. I disagree with this. I believe in a simple three-step method. First of all, I think that you should open up with a soft joke or a connection with the reader/company. I believe that this tone should be taken throughout the cover letter because the most
effective cover letters have a soft friendly tone. Secondly, the candidate should prove to the reader that they are the best for the position. This would be the bragging paragraph that may include work/school history and any other factors that help differentiate yourself from the others. This is part of the cover letter that should take the most time to construct. You should very careful with what you say and how you can use your past to help you prove yourself. The final step is to try and convince the reader to give you an interview. This is not a forceful step; it is just a call to action. This call to action should be in the conclusion paragraph, where you really wrap up your information and hopes for a meeting vis a vis. These steps, along with the professional guidelines should help you compose an effective cover letter. Finally, you should remember that the cover letter comes accompanied with a resume so you should plan accordingly when sending the documents together.
Here is a short instructional video if you have any further questions on how to construct a cover letter.
William Stylos is an Economics major at the University of South Florida. He is currently enrolled in Professional Writing (ENC 3250).