While landing that new job is a great feeling, looking for it can be painful. Especially the part where the prospective employer wants a cover letter. If you’ve ever been stuck on this step of the job search, or worry that maybe you’re not getting interviews because your cover letter isn’t up to snuff, here are some ideas to help you write a cover letter that will catch their attention.
What should go in a cover letter? Well, the whole idea is to tell the employer why you would be the best candidate for the job. So, you want to let them know what qualifications, characteristics, and skills you have that make you the perfect fit for their company. While you can have a basic template cover letter that includes all the basics, you’ll need to tailor each letter to the specific company and position. Let’s start with a basic outline.
In your first paragraph, you’ll want to state why you’re writing and where you saw the job opening. For example, “I’m writing to apply for the customer service position I saw listing at Monster.com.” Keep this first paragraph short, but give them a quick overview of why they should hire you. A great way to do this is to mention something from the job listing. Did they mention that they were looking for a person with good computer skills? Previous experience? A team player? Pick one or two of the qualifications they mentioned and let them know you are just the employee they’ve been looking for. This also tells them that you’ve read the job description and know what they want.
If you’ve had some college education, talk about it in your next paragraph. State the name of your college and what type of degree you earned. If you took any specific classes would be applicable to the job, mention them. Otherwise, talk about what general knowledge and skills you gained from your college experience that would help you in this position.
Next, move on to previous work experience. How have your current or past jobs prepared you for this position? Have you learned good communication skills, how to work with people, developed job-related skills? Keep this general and to the point. You want to let the employer know that your past experience has given you the tools and knowledge that you will need to work with them. Refer back to the job description and, where possible, mention past jobs that have required similar qualifications.
In your final paragraph, thank the employer for considering your application and tell them how to contact you to set up an interview. Include your phone number and email address. If you’re sending them a copy of your resume, it’s a good idea to mention that in this paragraph as well. End the letter with a “Sincerely” and your name.
Remember to keep your writing professional. A cover letter should sound different than a quick email to a friend. Avoid slang terms and make sure to include proper grammar and punctuation. It never hurts to have someone else read over your letter before sending it. Sometimes we miss mistakes in our own writing that another person might catch. And whatever you do, remember that you are the kind of employee they are looking for. Show the employer that you are confident of your own abilities.