A cover letter is a great way to add personalization to your application and can help you stand out among other candidates.
Each cover letter must be individually prepared and tailored according to the position at hand. It can be a great opportunity to express your interest in the specific company and let the reader know more about how your experience has prepared you for the specific position. It should always focus on the positive aspects of your experience and never bring attention to anything negative.
The exact content of the letter obviously will vary from situation to situation. The following information, however, should be included in each:
If sending your cover letter in a document, either by email or via an online submission, the header of this letter should match your resume exactly. Use the same style and format in order to create a consistent and recognizable layout.
Be sure to address the letter to the person who has the authority to hire you. If you aren't sure of who is in charge of hiring for this role, investigate! Ways to find out include checking LinkedIn to see if the position is posted there and who posted it, researching the company to see who the recruiters are for the department you're applying in, or simply calling the company directly and asking for the name of the contact for that position. After investigating, if you still cannot determine who the letter should be addressed to, be certain to use the non-gendered greeting or salutation of 'Dear Hiring Manager' or 'Dear [Company Name] Team'. Never start the letter with outdated phrases such as "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Whom it May Concern".
Indicate why you are writing and how you heard about the employer or the employment opportunity. Try to use original language and avoid starting the letter off with overused statements such as, "I am writing to apply for…"
Provide statements that show that you are genuinely interested in the employer and well suited for the role. Explain that you have done research or have read about the company and are enthusiastic about its products, organization, or some other aspect of the firm; or explain that your experience and background are compatible with the firm's interests and objectives and thus make you a viable candidate for the job.
Most job postings will list the requirements the organization is seeking in the successful candidate. Be certain to indicate how you meet each of these requirements. IF you do not meet one or more of these requirements, do not bring this to the attention of the reader. Simply skip any reference to that requirement. Remember, you must accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.
Ask for an interview in a positive manner and suggest a course of action. For example: "I would like to discuss the possibilities of joining your organization and am available for a personal interview at your convenience. I can be reached at the above address or by telephone at (812) 555-1234. Thank you for your consideration."
The most appropriate 'closing' options for cover letters are "Sincerely," or "Thank you". Note that the first word is capitalized and the other words are not. The 'closing' is followed by a comma. Allow enough space (usually four lines) between the closing and the typed name if you are signing (digitally or otherwise) the document; otherwise, one line is sufficient.