To be considered for some positions, you will be asked to submit a cover letter—and even when a letter is not required, you should consider writing one. The only instance in which you should forego submitting a cover letter would be if the job listing states specifically not to include a cover letter. Your cover letter:
- Allows you to introduce yourself.
- Shares why you’re interested in this position.
- Lets you demonstrate your knowledge of the organization (which you’ve gained by researching the employer).
- Highlights a few key aspects of your background (education, experiences, skills) that best fit the position.
- Lets you describe soft skills (e.g. quick learner, effective communicator) that are not fully captured in your résumé.
- Showcases your writing ability.
A well-written cover letter can set you apart from your competition, allowing you the opportunity to show your passion and personality in a way that your resume cannot.
Make Your Letter Stand Out
- If possible, address it to a person instead of “To whom it may concern.” Sometimes the contact person’s name is on the website or in the position description. More often, you will have to call the organization’s front desk or Human Resources department. In some cases, the job posting will tell you who to address your cover letter to so read the description very carefully.
- Analyze the position description carefully and highlight key words and phrases. As with your résumé, infuse these buzzwords into your document.
- Try to match your experience and expertise to the job requirements point by point, selecting your strongest qualifications that match the position requirements.
- Tailor your letter to each position and employer, underscoring your relevant skills and experience as well as your knowledge of and interest in the employer. Do not mass produce your cover letter; no two cover letters should contain the same wording and information! Companies will be able to identify if you have not written your cover letter with the specific role you are applying to in mind.
- Convey passion, enthusiasm, and personality by being authentic; however, make sure the tone reflects the culture of your field. If you’re applying to work for a bank, for example, your tone may be more reserved.
- Suggest an action plan. Request an interview, and indicate when you will follow up. (Unless you are on a strict timeline, one or two weeks is typical.)
- Thank your audience for their time and consideration.
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