A cover letter is like a good friend who introduces you to someone important that you really want to meet. When that friend uses the right words in the right way, you will be introduced as interesting and someone that a person would like to know. This is what a cover letter should accomplish. Since the cover letter accompanies the resume or application, it is what employers see first.
A cover letter should whet the employers appetite for more information about you, leading them to take an in-depth look at your application or resume. Writing a good cover letter is an art. On the one hand, you want to share as much as possible about who you are and what assets you can bring to a company. On the other hand, you want the employer to read it in its entirety so it cannot be lengthy. How do you find balance when writing a cover letter? The key is to consider what employers look for in a cover letter. Consider the following suggestions for writing a cover letter.
Make your cover letter stand out from the rest. When you use "To Whom it May Concern," the individual reading your letter may stop at the end of that phrase. Demonstrate that you care enough about the position to determine who is responsible for hiring. You can simply call the company and ask who heads the department. If that does not work, most organizations have websites with the names of directors and supervisors, so you may be able to obtain a name. Since the letter will probably go through a human resources office, it should not be difficult to find the name of the individual who heads that department and address the letter him or her.
Use the terminology that you find in the job description. While your cover letter should be brief, you can include the descriptive terms you find in the ad or job description to state what you can do for the company. This is important to consider since many companies scan cover letters and resumes electronically to weed out applicants who do not qualify. The scanning software recognizes terms and phrases that are aligned with what is in the job posting or advertisement.
Make sure that your cover letter has no misspelled words or typos. If you are not familiar with current cover letter formats, look for examples online. A good resource is CoverLetter.us, which features examples of cover letters for several career positions. If you are a recent college graduate, your career planning and placement center will also have examples that you can follow.
Remember the purpose of your cover letter to help you get the interview. Don't waste your time and limited space on information that is not important to the person reading it. Keep your focus on what you can bring to the company or organization.