Tips for Creating a Successful Cover Letter for your Resume

We all know how important a good resume can be when applying for a new job. In most cases, your cover letter may make the difference between obtaining a job interview or having your resume ignored entirely. It is imperative that you devote the necessary time and effort to write an effective cover letter. Even if the company doesn’t ask for one, you may want to include it anyway in order to show that you have put some extra effort into your application.

You may wonder how to go about writing an effective cover letter. Here you will find some information that will help you write a letter that will get your application noticed. If you take it one step at a time, you’ll soon become an expert at writing cover letters.

You may think, “The hiring manager has my resume, what’s the purpose of a cover letter?” Think of your cover letter as a sales pitch that will market your credentials and help you get to the interview stage. The cover letter provides detailed information on why you are qualified for the job you are applying for. Don’t simply repeat what’s on your resume, rather include specific information on why you’re a strong match for the employer’s job requirements.

What to Include in Your Cover Letter

A cover letter should complement your resume. Its purpose is to interpret the data-oriented, factual resume and add a personal touch to your application for employment.

Make it specific by referring to the company or specific details of the job description. Explain the reasons for your interest in the organization and identify your most relevant skills or experiences. Determine relevance by carefully reading the job description, evaluating the skills required and matching them to your own skills. Think of instances where you applied those skills, and how you would be effective in the position available.

As the first written contact with a potential employer, your letter creates a critical first impression. It should be error free. Something that might seem like a small error, such as a typo, can get your application immediately knocked off the list.

Now that you have convinced the manager that you can write an error-free letter and have some familiarity with the company and the job, you need to know what not to include in your cover letter.

What to Leave Off Your Cover Letter

There are some things that you don’t need to include in the cover letters you write. The letter is about your qualifications for the job, not about you personally. There is no need to share any personal information about yourself or your family in it. If you don’t have all the qualifications the employer is seeking, don’t mention it.

Instead, focus on the credentials you have that are a match. Don’t mention salary unless the company asks for your salary requirements. If you have questions about the job, the salary, the schedule, or the benefits, do not mention them in the letter but rather save those questions for the interview.

One thing that’s very important is to avoid writing too much. Keep your letter focused, concise, and just a few paragraphs in length. It’s important to convey just enough information to entice the hiring manager to contact you for an interview. If you write too much, it’s probably not going to be read.

Each cover letter you write should include:

  1. Which job you’re applying for (include the job title in your opening paragraph)
  2. How you learned about the job (and a referral if you have one)
  3. Why you are qualified for the job (be specific)
  4. What you have to offer the employer, and why you want to work at this specific company (match your skills to the job description and read up on the organization’s mission, values, and goals to mention in your letter)
  5. A Thank you for being considered for the job.

While there is no guarantee your cover letter will get you an interview, it will certainly help to differentiate you in the eyes of those doing the hiring. It’s important to make a good first impression, and your cover letter will give you the perfect chance.

Mary K. Thomas

President – Fasttrack Staffing, Inc.