How to write a cover letter for a resume
Some people get stumped when it comes to how to write a cover letter for a resume. How long should it be? What information should be included? Do I even have to send a cover letter?
Your resume is a very important document; it speaks much about you as the job seeker. A cover letter is usually sent with the resume. It is designed to highlight certain parts of your resume and introduce you.
This article provides some guidance on how to write a cover letter for a resume. The important thing to remember is that you only get one chance to make a good first impression.
It is not clear cut these days whether you should include a cover letter with your resume, particularly if one is not asked for. Many recruiters, as well as job seekers, claim there is no point submitting a cover letter as they are rarely, if ever, read. This is true, because many cover letters have a serious yawn factor. Why is this?
Yawn factor 1 – Most cover letters are filled with ‘I’ statements: ‘I did this’, ‘I am this type of person’. A cover letter must talk about the organization’s needs and how you can meet these, rather than going on about yourself.
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Mention specific achievements that relate to the job, rather than general wishy washy statements about ‘excellent communication’ and ‘being a team player’.
Yawn factor 2 – Many cover letters do not address anyone in particular. People sometimes write ‘To Whom It May Concern’ so they aren’t addressing the person listed on the job ad directly. This is not only rude, but demonstrates that the candidate can’t be bothered finding out a person’s name. At the very least address your letter to ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ or another appropriate title.
Yawn factor 3 – Many cover letters do not include the job reference number, or even the position title. This means the recruiter has to try and work out what position you are applying for when they are already inundated with applications. They may have many vacancies at the same time so that makes the situation worse.
Yawn factor 4 – Many cover letters only discuss duties performed previously, which can give the impression you were just doing enough to get by. Include specific milestones which show you did your job well.
Basic tips on how to write a cover letter for a resume
- Keep it brief – not more than one page. The resume is a 1-2 page document that gives detail about your experience and qualifications.
- Remember your cover letter serves an important purpose. It defines you and things to look for in your resume for the hiring manager or agency.
- Your cover letter should state in one or two opening sentences what you’re doing: ‘Enclosed is my resume for the position of…’
- You should clearly state the position you are applying for. Do not assume your reader will know the job you want.
- Highlight some of your strongest traits or skills. Keep it short, but don’t just say something like, ‘Here’s my resume. See you later’. Instead, say a little about yourself that is relevant to the job position.
- Check your contact information to ensure it is accurate. And if you have voicemail make sure your message is professional!
- Do not staple the cover letter to your resume; use a paperclip or nothing at all. Whoever reads your resume may need to photocopy it, and it can be frustrating to waste time unpicking the staple.
- Check for grammatical mistakes. This is an obvious one. It’s hard to proofread your own work. Find another person willing to read through your cover letter and resume. Your chances of getting a job are real small if what you send is littered with misspellings, typos and poor grammar.
- Make use of the editor in MS Word. Use a plain font, like Arial or Times New Roman, to make your cover letter and resume professional and readable.
More tips for on how to write a cover letter for a resume – making it even more professional
- Always address the cover letter directly to a person in HR or the team leader of the department. Find out their name. If necessary, call the company and ask for that person’s name.
- Present an exceptional fact or eye-catching statement at the start of your cover letter to capture the recruiter’s attention. You could explain a problem you’ve had at work at the beginning. State how you solved that problem.
- Briefly mention how you meet the requirements in the ad. You can include any special educational qualifications or certificates you have. Include any particular talents you have in areas related to your profession. Your cover letter should guide the reader to certain points in your CV.
- If you are a good communicator, tell them you have proven communication skills. Nearly all employers need employees who can communicate effectively with people, on paper and in person. Give a short example too. You may include any relevant computer or software knowledge you have.
- List any relevant points that are not included in your resume.
- Speak to the company. As an additional tip on how to write a cover letter for a resume, find the catch phrase or brand of your target employer and figure out a way to include it. It will quickly capture their attention.
- You can include testimonials in the body of your cover letter. Testimonials confirm your talents, achievements and qualities, but most of all they support what you say about how good you are. They may just help you show you are the best person for the job.
- End your cover letter with a thank you, along with your contact details. Either request the employer to get in touch with you or propose a date when you will contact them.
Here is an example on how to write a cover letter for a resume
Contact Person, Job Title
RE: APPLICATION FOR (VACANT POSITION).
Please find enclosed my resume. I am interested in working with (NAME OF COMPANY) as a (POSITION TITLE). As you will note from my resume I am qualified and experienced in various areas (You could also say, ‘I am qualified for the named position because of my vast and prior experience in…). My college degree major and certifications are (mention them). I have spent the last (number of years) performing (mention similar responsibilities).
Thank you for your time. I look forward to being able to discuss this working opportunity with you. I will follow up with you on Thursday?
Your Name, signature
This cover letter is short, to the point and simple. It serves its purpose by introducing your application and resume. Don’t waste time rambling. There is only a 50/50 chance the recruiter will even read your cover letter.
A long cover letter will put people off. If you follow these simple steps on how to write a cover letter for a resume you should make a great impression first up. Good luck with your job search!