Your cover letter is a simple one-page document that adds depth, dimension, personality, and humanity to your resume. And if it's truly hitting the mark, your letter demonstrates that you're not just a qualified professional; you're also a pretty terrific person and an excellent addition to any workplace.
To create a winning document that not only highlights your brand, but also summarizes your potential contributions, make sure your letter follows a simple set of organizational rules.
Begin your letter with a smooth, no-nonsense line or two that lets the reader know which job you'd like to apply for and how you found out about it. If you choose, you can also add a hook or a jazzy opening statement that makes the reader want more—just make sure you stay on topic.
If you start with a joke, make sure it's genuinely funny, and if you start with a quote, make sure you choose something that's insightful and relevant. Sparking a reader's interest with these tactics can definitely be a big win, but taking the wrong approach can also be an equally big turn-off. For this reason, if you're unsure of the effectiveness of this more untraditional approach, stick with something simple.
Here's an example of a straightforward opening statement:
"I found your post in the Industry Review and I'd like an opportunity to apply for your Warehouse Manager position. I'm a distribution logistics expert with five years of experience in the food and beverage space, and I'm looking for a position in the Seattle area. I think my skills are a fit for your needs."
Avoid a few common mistakes as you draft your opening statement: Don't ramble or repeat yourself. Watch out for typos, since they can cause the most damage when they appear in your first sentence. And of course, keep your tone respectful and warm, not wooden and awkward.
The second and third paragraphs of your letter should accomplish two goals. First, they should get right to the point and present accomplishments and achievements that support your primary argument: you're a perfect match for this job. Second, they should demonstrate how your past experience and skills would translate to big wins for the company (you'll need to do your homework on the employer for this part).
If you aren't a natural writer, that's okay. You can get some editing help, but first you'll need to complete your first draft. So go forward boldly.
Watch out for these easy mistakes that tend to occur in the body paragraphs:
- Don't wander off the topic at hand.
- Stay relevant.
- And as you describe your accomplishments and contributions, be specific, not vague. Don't repeat what you've clearly stated in your resume, avoid generic boasts that lack substance, and focus on the kinds of accomplishments that are specific to your own record.
After you've made your most important points, reiterate how your skills and experience can add value to the company and then bring your letter to a graceful close. Thank your reader for considering your application, and politely direct their attention to your attached resume and supplemental materials. Let them know exactly where and how to reach you if they need further information and express your interest in explaining more about your qualifications in an interview.
Here's an example of a simple, polite, business-standard cover letter sign-off and sample of a more proactive approach:
"I'd welcome an opportunity to speak with you further about my credentials. Please feel free to review my attached resume and contact me at your convenience using the information below. I look forward to hearing from you."
"In summary, I think my years of experience combined with my can-do attitude and passion for management would elevate your marketing department and add tremendous value to your business. I'd love the opportunity to discuss this further in an interview, but to give you more information immediately, I've attached my resume for your review. Thank you for your time and consideration, and please don't hesitate to contact me for additional information."
As you wrap up your cover letter, keep your tone polite and respectful. Don't issue commands or orders (for example: "Please review my attached information and contact me to arrange an interview.") And make sure you attach all the documentation and information you mention in your closing. Don't accidentally omit your resume, phone number, or any other key detail.
For more on how to keep your cover letter complete, accurate, respectful and effective, turn to the cover letter creation tools available on MyPerfectResume's Cover Letter Builder.