Purpose of a Cover Letter
A cover letter is used to introduce yourself and your resume when you are not able to make these introductions in person. A cover letter should be used whenever you are sending your resume to someone for employment consideration. A resume sent without a cover letter or a very generic cover letter is likely to be treated as junk mail.
Similar to a resume, there is no ”standard” cover letter, but it needs to contain certain information to be effective and it is best to keep it to one page. Your cover letter should be tailored specifically for each position you seek and for each particular submission situation. For example, a letter used to apply for an advertised position will not be the same as the one used for prospecting (inquiring about possible positions) or networking (seeking help in getting your resume to someone who might be hiring).
A well-crafted cover letter generally accomplishes the following:
- Introduces you and your resume to an employer.
- Explains why you are writing or applying for the position.
- Expresses a high level of interest in and knowledge about the position.
- Explains why you are a good match for the position and organization.
- Draws the reader’s attention to specific qualifications and/or skills that are particularly relevant to the position or the employer.
- Demonstrates your excellent written communications skills.
- Makes a request for action, such as asking for an opportunity to present your qualifications in person (interview), or to discuss employment options.
The goal is to develop a letter that communicates how your experiences, skills and interests make you the best candidate for a particular position (or a strong candidate for employment when the letter is used for prospecting or networking).
See the next page for information on preparing effective cover letters.