March 20, 2018 |
Cover letters, much like resumes, will vary in length depending on the position you are applying for and what is applicable to include. For many positions you apply for, cover letters are no longer necessary and may not be read at all. Others will require you to submit a cover letter with your resume to be considered for the position.
A cover letter is not meant to repeat what is on your resume. It is a chance to show some insight into your character, discuss your expertise and display your interest for the position you are applying for. You want to maintain professionalism while showing personality. The purpose is to introduce yourself, demonstrate your interest, draw attention to your resume and motivate the reader to meet with you.
Your cover letter should be concise. It should be one page and divided into three to four paragraphs. If it is too short, employers might think you don’t care much about the job. If it is too long, they may not take the time to read it. Almost 70% of employers want to see a cover letter that is less than a full page.
This seems simple but you would be surprised. Don’t get so wrapped up in the body of the letter that you forget the basics.
Whenever possible, address your cover letter to the specific person rather than “To Whom It May Concern”. Do your best to research the person responsible for hiring. If it is not listed in the job description, don’t be afraid to call and find out who it should be addressed to.
The first paragraph should indicate the reason you are writing and how you learned about the position. Include attention grabbing, yet professional, information.
The second paragraph should be used to explain your qualifications and highlight with specific examples how your skills, experience or research match what the employer is seeking.
The third paragraph should be used as a closing paragraph to thank the reader for their consideration and to request an opportunity to meet to discuss the position further. You can put your contact information here so the employer knows the best way to reach you or be more proactive and let them know when you will be following up.
The format of your cover letter can be just as important as the length. As odd as it may sound, you always want a good amount of white space on the paper to prevent it from looking too cluttered and difficult to read.
You want to choose a font that is legible in a readable font size. A typical 12 point font is usually the best choice.
Your margins should be one inch all around, with the text aligned to the left.
You should leave space between paragraphs, as well as between your salutation and the text (and between your text and the signature), so that your letter is easy to read.
It’s an obvious do, but so important. If you have grammatical errors or misspellings, this can immediately disqualify you from being considered for a position. Employers often view this as being careless and an inability to write effectively. Always proofread and whenever possible, have someone else proofread it for you as well.
Your cover letter should be designed to highlight your most relevant qualifications for the job and what you have to offer the employer. The goal of the cover letter is to grab the reader’s attention by convincing them you are a great candidate, make them want to read your resume and profile, and, of course, call you in for an interview so you can sell yourself in person.