A neat, concise and well-written cover letter can entice a potential employer to review your resume in earnest, but a poorly organized, dull cover letter banishes your resume to the reject pile without consideration. A great cover letter is your best chance to show you've done your research and have a sincere interest in the company. Think of it as an opportunity to point out why they should hire you for this position.
So, what should be said in a cover letter to get a recruiter or hiring manager to read your resume? We've broken it down for you.
What Is the Purpose of a Cover Letter?
Recruiters use cover letters as a way of differentiating between similar candidates. For that reason, your cover letter needs to focus on your impressive achievements, transferable skills, and credentials. It is not a place to summarize your work history; that's what your resume is designed to do.
The purpose of the cover letter is to introduce your brand to an organization, show your passion for the company, and prove your fitness for a specific job. The cover letter gives the recruiter, HR representative or hiring manager a reason to look at your resume and provides a teaser to make them want to meet you.
Ultimately, it works as the promotional accompaniment to your resume to win an interview. Yes, win. Make no mistake. This is a contest, and only one person is getting the job.
Recruiters use cover letters as a way of differentiating between similar candidates. For that reason, your cover letter should focus on your most impressive achievements, transferable skills, and credentials.
What Should You Include in a Cover Letter?
There's a lot to say in a cover letter. Every cover letter should include these five sections:
- A header, which includes your name and contact information
- A greeting, personalized to include the hiring manager's name
- An opening paragraph to introduce yourself and hook the reader
- Body paragraphs showing off transferable skills related to the job description
- A closing paragraph that includes a thank you and expressing a desire to meet in person
Other Tips About Cover Letters
- Your opening statement should communicate clearly that you want this job and are the right candidate for it
- Be concise. It should take under a minute to read.
- Use the hook paragraph to show you understand the challenges faced by the employer and outline how your skills can help solve them.
What to Leave Out of a Cover Letter
- Most cover letters (and writing guides) tell you to list your skills and experience. According to Forbes, that's actually not a good thing. It's better to give specific examples of achievements. Don't waste time listing skills that decision makers can find on your resume.
- If you need to be funny, indulge yourself at the next open mic in your neighborhood. Humor is subjective and your jokes might not land with a stranger diving through piles of resumes.
- There's no need to rehash details on your resume or talk about your hobbies, family, or anything else that's personal — unless it relates directly to the job. (For example, you should never mention your religion unless you are applying for a job at a religious organization.) Everything on the cover letter should be related to the job to which you're applying.
By planning ahead and personalizing your cover letter to each job ad, writing these documents is a breeze. The better you get at it, the sooner you'll find the job of your dreams. If you feel that you need more guidance, study additional tips on how to write a cover letter, or use a professional cover letter builder for step-by-step guidance.
For more advice on writing winning cover letters, check out LiveCareer for everything you need to find a job and advance your career.