After you have finished your resume, you may think you are done. Instead, next on the to-do list should be creating a cover letter. Don't skip submitting a cover letter just because it is an overwhelming task. Take advantage of the added opportunity to state why you are the job-seeker that should be hired!
As you craft your cover letter, consider Revision Resume's best practices:
Use a Business Letter Format
Even if you will be submitting your cover letter electronically, it should be written in a business letter format. This includes listing the address of the company on the cover letter. Yes, we realize you aren't actually mailing it to that address. However, hiring managers expect a formal letter, not a casual email. Therefore, your letter should include the following:
Your contact information
Business address for the hiring company
Body that is multiple paragraphs long
Revision Resume does not think it is necessary for you to include an actual signature if you are submitting it electronically. Instead, your typed signature is adequate.
It is worthwhile to spend some time trying to determine who the cover letter should be addressed to. Can you find out who the hiring manager is? Doing this work may elevate you as a job candidate because it demonstrates you are serious about this position.
However, in some cases, it is not possible to hunt down that information. In those situations, address the letter to a hiring manager for the specific department you are applying to. This is especially true for a large company. Instead of addressing it to Amazon.com, see if you can determine the department the role is under, and address the cover letter to that department.
A Cover Letter Should Be Only One Page
In our blog, "Why is Resume Writing so Hard?" we mentioned that resumes no longer need to be kept to one page. It is acceptable for resumes to be 2 pages, especially for those job candidates that have a few years (or more) of work experience. However, the 1 page rule still applies to the cover letter. A hiring manager does not have the time to read a multiple page cover letter and really, you should be able to contain all of the pertinent information within one page.
Remember, the goal of the cover letter is to get you called in for an interview. At that point, you can elaborate on all the ways you are the ideal candidate for the opening. For the cover letter, keep it concise.
Bullet Points and Bolding for Readability
When we say that the cover letter should include a body that is multiple paragraphs long, we don't mean big chunks of text. Make it readable for the hiring manager so they can see the highlights, even if just skimming the document. We suggest using bullets, especially when indicating how your skills and experience demonstrate you are a match with job requirements. Consider highlighting a few specific keywords as well.
Keep the paragraphs short, only a few sentences each. Having white space between the paragraphs makes it easier on the eye of the reader.
Focus on the Position
Job seekers often make the mistake of including their entire life history on their resume and cover letter. It is really important to focus on the position you are applying for. Don't include irrelevant information. If the hiring manager has to search through a bunch of unnecessary information to try to determine why you should be hired, they may decide you aren't the right candidate. Show your strong communication skills by focusing in on the position and how you are the candidate they should hire.
Following the above best practices for creating a cover letter will help ensure the document you submit is professional and aids in your job application. If you would like assistance in creating a cover letter, don't hesitate to reach out to Revision Resume. We specialize in crafting cover letters that demonstrate our clients unique skills and accomplishments and would be happy to help you achieve success in your job search!
Additional cover letter information can be found here.