Just like peanut butter really isn’t the same without jelly, a great resume isn’t the same without a great cover letter. A cover letter is the perfect way for someone who is about to review your resume to quickly get an idea about you in a way that is brief, to the point, and concise.
I’ve used many different formats of cover letters over the years, either mailed or via email, so pick one that’s best for you. In general, a good cover letter should include:
* Your address and the date at the top of the page
* The name and address of the person you’re sending your resume to: always try to get a name if a job ad doesn’t specify one by calling the company. If an ad says “no calls”, I usually call anyway to try and get a name from a receptionist if possible without giving my name.
* Introductory Paragraph: Mention the ad/job you’re applying to and a brief reason as to why you’d make the perfect applicant for the position (which I usually call an “opportunity”)
* Middle Paragraph(s): One or two paragraphs, your choice, mentioning the major highlights of your work/life experience and why you’re in the job market (new opportunities, interest in a new field, etc.). You might also mention why you’d be the perfect person for them to speak to if you haven’t already done so in the first paragraph. Remember, your goal is to get an in-person interview! Phone interviews are great, but some good one-on-one time with the hiring manager is even better!
* Closing Paragraph: Let people know you’re available for an interview (phone/in-person) and look forward to discussing your background as well as how you’re going to make a great member of their team. Be enthusiastic!
Don’t forget to check for spelling errors and read the cover letter a few times to ensure you’ve included everything you’d like.