Not too long ago, it was thought that the age of using a cover letter was dying. That is no longer the case. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have been more interested in cover letters as a means for connecting with job seekers.
What should your cover letter look like?
The layout, heading, and greeting
Your cover letter tells the hiring manager what you can do for them. It should be a formal letter specifically addressed to the hiring manager at the company with whom you’re applying. It is okay to use the greeting “To Whom It May Concern” if you don’t know the name of the person specifically, but a name is always best.
The body - paragraph 1
The first paragraph should be written to tell the hiring manager how you heard about the opening and to express your desire to apply. Now, this may seem self-explanatory (who would send a cover letter and resume to a company if the intent wasn’t to apply for a job?) but there is an actual reason. The company likely posted that job on multiple job boards and it is also probably listed on their company website. Telling you where you found it gives them valuable marketing information about their job posts. So, you’re helping them with the first sentence and if you’re keeping in mind that a cover letter is supposed to tell them what you can do for them you’re already off to a great start.
The body - paragraph 2
The second paragraph will tell them why you think you’re the right person for the job. Discuss one or two achievements you’ve had in previous positions or something you achieved while in college that will help set you apart from the rest of the pack. For example, did you single-handedly increase revenue for your department by 10% during an economic downfall? Talk about it and then turn it around to let them know you’d love to use that knowledge to increase their revenue.
The body - paragraph 3
The last paragraph of the letter should reiterate your desire to work for their company. It should also thank them for taking the time to look over your resume and give them your preferred method of contact. Be specific, be bold. Instead of ending the letter with something like, “if you’d like to know more about me, please call,” end it with, “I look forward to hearing from you to discuss my candidacy.” Then close out the letter with your salutation and signature.
Finally, sign your name. Make sure the name you’re using matches all of your other career marketing documents including resume, thank you notes, and LinkedIn profile. The name you use DOES NOT have to be your legal name and IT CAN include any nicknames that you go by.
Exclude any verbiage about your resume being attached. It is unnecessary.
The main idea of the cover letter is to tell the employer what you can do, not what you want to do or what you think you can do. Be positive, courageous and sell yourself!