Cover Letters

You just heard about the perfect job, and were so excited that you rushed home and tailored your resume. But now for the next step: the cover letter. You are tempted to just send your resume without one, why not? What are the chances someone is actually going to read it?

Don’t do it! You want recruiters to read your resume, and a cover letter will ensure this will happen. Employers usually give resumes 30 seconds, so sending a strong cover letter gives you an edge.  But writing a cover letter doesn’t have to be painful. Reading through the job description should give you clues on what sort of information to include, like relevant experiences, managerial or leadership skills as examples. But how do you manage your letter to make you stand apart from the rest? Here’s how:

Customize it.
You don’t send a form resume, and you shouldn’t send a form cover letter. Avoid, “To whom it may concern,” or “Dear Sir or Madam.” If you can’t find the recruiter’s name, call the company and ask who you should direct your resume to.

Toot your own horn.
We all know that you should talk about why you are applying for the position and why it interests you. But don’t be shy; talk up why the company wants to hire you. Use examples of how your qualifications will benefit the company in their short-term and long-term goals, but don’t embellish. Your cover letter and resume should be truthful.

Keep it positive.
Avoid negative words. These are subtle keys that turn off recruiters. Avoid phrases like, “I realize I do not have the right amount of experience, but.” As soon as you tell someone you aren’t qualified, they won’t get to the, “but.” If they want to clarify this information they will ask you during the interview.  A cover letter is a necessity, so sending a strong cover letter gives you an edge.  Learn how to write your cover letter so that you stand apart from the rest.

Keep it simple.
This is not an essay. Recruiters and hiring managers are flooded with candidates all applying for the same position. Keep your paragraphs short, avoid jargon, don’t use SAT words and keep the length to a page or less. It’s better to come off as relatable and concise, these are more desirable traits recruiters are looking for.

End it well.
Thank the person for their time, and be assertive. Instead of a passive hope to hear from the recruiter, indicate that you will follow up with them regarding the interview process.  Remember to write your cover letter in a business letter style. Most word processing programs have formats you can use. Once you have revised your letter, have a friend look it over as well. This is your first impression and you want it to carry you to the next step, the interview.

Next Step:

September 10th, 2008

Mr. John Doe
ABC Company
P. O. Box 999
New York, NY 10009

Dear Mr. Doe:

I was thrilled to read in this Sunday’s paper that ABC Company is seeking an office manager to support its local bureau. For more than eight years I worked as an executive assistant for Peabody’s, which relocated last year. After a brief sabbatical to finish my associate’s degree in accounting, I am anxious to return to the workforce.

As a long-time corporate administrator, I offer extensive expertise in billing, reception, filing, logistics, presentation development and travel planning. I have served as a liaison among various business departments and coordinated numerous executive-level events and meetings. I am computer proficient with certifications in Microsoft Office applications and a background in IBM Lotus Notes and HTML.

My goal is to secure a dynamic and challenging office management role where I can put both my organizational capabilities and my newly certified finance management skills to work. For those reasons, I believe I am an excellent candidate for your position.

I have enclosed my resume, which provides further details on my skills and experience. Thank you in advance for your consideration. I will follow up with you next week to schedule a meeting.

Kind regards,

Anastasia Robinson
(212) 999-5555
email address


April 10, 2005

Ms. Jacque Doe
Human Resources Manager
ABC Enterprises
1000 Alphabet Blvd.Br Seattle, WA 98104

Dear Ms. Doe:

Your colleague and my former mentor at Fitness World, Mr. Harold Dean, suggested that I forward my resume to you. He mentioned that your organization will be hiring experienced financial analysts in the coming months, and I wanted to get my foot in the door immediately.

As a financial analyst with over six years of experience, I have an extensive background in both analysis and reporting for mid- to large-size organizations. My forecasting skills were fine-tuned during my last four years as an analyst and then senior analyst at KGR Inc., where I received distinction as finance “Employee of the Year” in 2003.

I have a rich quantitative background, which when combined with my graduate work in Asian markets, makes me an excellent candidate for your growing organization. More details of my skills, experience and accomplishments are outlined in the enclosed resume.

I appreciate your time and consideration. I will contact you later on this week to schedule a meeting. In the meantime, please contact me directly at the phone number or e-mail address below if you have questions.


Alan Roberts (883) 333-3333