How To Write a Cover Letter

Posted by | January 9, 2009 | How to ...

One of the most prevalent questions among job seekers is “How do I write a cover letter?”  Most wonder what content to include, what format to follow and how long a cover letter should be. Here I will address these often asked questions to help job seekers perfect their cover letters.

My first piece of advice is to follow the KISS rule. KISS stands for Keep It Simple Sweetie (or Stupid or Silly – whichever you prefer).  Cover letters shouldn’t be novels and they shouldn’t review all of your experience; that’s what your resume is for.  Quite simply, a cover letter should be personalized to each job for which you apply – addressing the specific qualifications you have for that particular job.  Your content should be limited to one or two short paragraphs.

While it might seem daunting to write a new cover letter for each resume you send out, it’s fairly simple to do if you save a “blank draft” and/or multiple drafts to pick and choose from. When drafting a cover letter, it may be helpful to cut and paste the job description into your letter so that you can address your experience in the order of the job description.  Then after you’ve inserted your important points, you simply delete the job description from your letter.

Here is a sample job description, followed by an appropriate cover letter:

Senior Recruiter / Account Manager

Required Skills:
• A minimum of one year of recruiting and sales experience in a demanding and challenging environment.
• Excellent communication and effective business development skills.
• Prior experience generating new business and sourcing potential candidates through direct contact, referrals, networking and the internet.
• Ability to interview prospective candidates, negotiate rates, fees, and coordinate communications between candidates and hiring companies.
• Proven ability to work in a fast-paced environment.
• Ability to develop relationships with Fortune 1000 companies.

————————————————————————————————-

January 9, 2009

ABC Company
555 W. Wyoming Avenue
Your Town, FL 33999

To Whom it May Concern:

Please consider my qualifications for the position of Senior Recruiter/Account Manager as advertised on LinkedIn. With more than 15 years of experience in Recruiting and Sales, I have demonstrated success in a number of areas that are important in the candidate you seek.

In my most recent position as Director of Business Development, I led the development of multiple Fortune 500 client accounts including companies such as Coca-Cola and Walmart. Additionally, I negotiated rates and contracts as well as directed sourcing efforts using a multitude of online and offline resources. During the past year, my efforts resulted in more than $2m gross profit for the company.

I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss my experience and qualifications in greater detail. I am available at your convenience to interview and I look forward to hearing from you!

Regards,

Robin M. Eads
(email address here)
(phone number here)

————————————————————————————————-

There you go; short, sweet and to the point.  I could have included a lot of information about my experience but chose to address their requirements using only the most recent position.  A cover letter should get the attention of the potential employer, not be a substitute for your resume. If you include some of the key words from the job description to describe your qualifications, it should do just that. Then, upon further review of your resume they will see the depth of your experience.

Formatting should be simple and should not include and bolding or italics unless absolutely necessary.  If a job number is listed for the position for which you are applying, you can include that below the Company Name and address as an RE: line.  (for example: RE: Job # 1234 – Recruiter and Account Manager)  Additionally, if you happen to know the name of the person to whom you are applying it’s best to use that instead of “To Whom It May Concern”.

I hope this helps clear up some of the confusion regarding cover letters. If these tips don’t address your particular questions or issues, make sure to leave a comment and I’d be happy to help you further.

2519 total views, 1 today

5 Responses to “How To Write a Cover Letter”

  1. Comment made by anil on Jan 10th 2009 at 6:48 am:

    great one! thx dear

  2. Comment made by Shannon on Jan 17th 2009 at 2:00 am:

    Recruiters/HR personnel don’t read cover letters any more. In fact, you’re lucky if they read your resume. They might put your resume through scanning software to search for particular keywords, but other than that, I doubt they look at more than the first 10 resumes they receive. It’s bleak!

  3. Comment made by SJ Delaney on Jan 26th 2009 at 5:44 pm:

    Cover letters are reminders of a time when resumes were printed professionally en mass 100 copies or more at a time. The cover letter’s purpose as explained above is to customize your creditenials for the specific job you are applying to.

    Resumes are stored electronically, easily updated, and are the appropriate place to properly ’stuff’ the keywords for that position, if they are appropriate.

    The cover letter is as antiquated as 20 lb ivory white stock. If you intend to hand deliver your resume, then by all means include the cover letter. But first, update your resume to ensure it includes all the same keywords.

  4. Comment made by Terry Hartley on Jan 26th 2009 at 10:19 pm:

    Interesting SJ. I consult for some marketing firms and all of those agencies still require cover letters for job openings within their firms. A cursory glance at job postings on a site such as Craigslist returns job openings requiring cover letters.

    While I agree that they are starting to go the way of typewriters, I think a well written and cleverly worded cover letter sets job seekers apart from the crowd.

    But hey, that is just my experience and opinion. I’m always open to learning what else is popular in the job market.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.