Learn how to create a cover letter in 3 easy steps. Creating a cover letter is simple when you follow our instructions for writing a resume cover letter.
Use the steps you'll find outlined here in writing a cover letter to go with your next resume, and you'll be well on your way to the job of your dreams. There are a few things to consider when writing a resume cover letter. First off, know what type of letter you need to write...
Is it a prospecting letter, where you're not applying for a specific advertised position, but rather just letting a company know you're interested in them and what you might be able to offer?
Is it a letter in response to a specific open positions?
Are you making a career change or relocating?
Or... are you following up on a job interview?
Each type of letter has its place in the job search process. But the approach to creating a cover letter in each case may be somewhat different too. Still, there are some similarities in the process...
Creating cover letters is both an art and a science. I'm here to help you with the science side by providing a model for resume cover letter creation. (The art of cover letter writing is left mostly up to you... don't worry... it gets easier with practice!)
There are 3 basic parts to making a connection:
Draft a Strong Opening Paragraph
When you create a cover letter, you must capture the hiring manager's interest immediately. The best way to do this is with a dynamic opening sentence and paragraph. Be sure to refer to the position you're vying for, and state why you are qualified for the job.
Power Tip: Remember to frame your statements in terms of how you can benefit the company, not the other way around.
If you can, mention the name of someone the hiring manager knows and respects. For example, you could say, "Joe Smith recommended that I contact you about your opening for a shift manager." Or, "My associate, Janet Brown, told me such wonderful things about Jones Company that I couldn't wait to send you my resume."
Rhetorical questions that make the hiring manager think can also work well as you create a cover letter. This should be a question that can lead into some way that you can benefit the company. For example, "Are you struggling with the rising costs of [fill in the blank]? I can cut your costs by 30%. Here's how…"
Beginning with a quote is another good way to grab the reader's attention. Although you must choose your quote wisely. And then you have to make sure you transition into the rest of your letter gracefully.
Power Tip: It's also important to know what tone to set in this opening paragraph.
In some cases, this may depend on the industry in which you're trying to get a job. For example, a friendly, informal tone may work well if you're applying to a small, entrepreneurial company. While a more formal, professional tone might work better for a large law firm or corporation. On the other hand, a bold statement might work really well if you're seeking a leadership or sales position.
Show Your Personality
While your writing style should be matched to your audience to some extent, as explained above, it should also reflect your personality. Start to give your prospective employer a sense of who you are and what you value as you're creating a cover letter.
Research and Target Your Audience
You want to sell the hiring manager on the belief that you're a great fit for the company. The only way to do this is if you know enough about the company to understand what makes it tick. Be sure you've taken the time to learn a bit about their mission, their products, their history, and their goals for the future. This will help you communicate that hiring you will benefit them.
Power Tip: When writing a resume cover letter, always address it to a specific person.
Take the time to call the company if necessary to learn the name of the person doing the interviewing. This, in itself, says a lot about your initiative and attention to detail. I talk more about resume and cover letter targeting here
Your cover letter should sell you as the product. So, make sure you know what skills the company needs and then describe how you have what they are looking for.
Pick one or two of your best accomplishments or abilities, and highlight them as you create a cover letter. Sure, they're listed on your resume too, but this tactic makes sure the hiring manager sees them right away.
If it makes sense to list a few accomplishments, then list them as bullets. This will draw the reader's attention to that section of the letter right away. And after all, what you have to offer is the most important part of this letter.
Ideally, you want to leave your reader hungering to know more about you. But you also want to be proactive. So, rather than ending your letter with the common statement, "I look forward to your call," say you'll call them in a few days to arrange a time to meet.
If you don't have a phone number, and couldn't find one during your research, then try to provide an incentive for them to call you. Some people say they're going on vacation or out of town after a certain date and ask to meet prior to that.
Others say they'll be in an area at a certain date and time and ask for the interview during that period. Be creative, but make it as real – and company-oriented – as you can.
One final tip as you create a cover letter is that it's important that your letter be easy to read and professional looking. You can get some help with cover letter formatting here. To see some sample cover letters for ideas on writing a cover letter, click here.