No matter how much advice is out there, a lot of job seekers still seem baffled by the concept of using cover letters. They wonder if they really need a cover letter (yes); if it should just repeat what's in the resume (no); if it has to be customized for every job (yes), and how long it should be (1 page max). But the burning question, the one that really seems to gets people's knickers in a twist, is:
What should I say in my cover letter?
Clue Wagon's Kerry Sandberg Scott (yesterday's guest blogger) puts it this way:
"Really think about why you want this particular job, and why your experience makes you the one they should call first. This doesn't have to be long, because you want to save something for the interview. It just has to show them that you really did read the ad, that you understand what they're looking for, and that you might be the one they need."
6 Key Cover Letter Elements
In order to convey that message effectively, there are six things you must include in your cover letter. The table below shows the six must-have elements for an effective cover letter, and gives an example of how you might express them:
|WHAT TO SAY:
|1) Who you are and how to contact you
44 Bearfoot Road
|2) Which job you're applying for and how you found it
||New Business, Inc.
123 Main Street
Springfield, MA 01110
Attention: Harold Von Hirer
RE: Plant Manager Position posted on JobBoard.com
|3) Why you're interested and enthusiastic about this job at this organization
||Dear Mr. Von Hirer:
As my attached resume indicates, I have spent the past four years as a Plant Coordinator at Former Company, and the prior three years as a Line Manager with Smith Company. These roles have given me the multi-faceted expertise to successfully take on the Plant Manager position at New Business. This opportunity is especially attractive because I share your commitment to the local community. As a longtime volunteer at the Springfield Shelter, I have seen firsthand how your corporate contributions directly impact people's lives.
|4) What relevant experience or transferable skills make you a good candidate
||My expertise aligns exceptionally well with your job description, and I'm proud of my track record. At Former Company, I continually sought ways to streamline processes, reduce scheduling conflicts, and minimize downtime. During my tenure, production rates rose steadily, achieving an overall 33% increase between 2005 and 2009. I'm confident I could achieve similar results for your business.
|5) That you'd like an interview
||I welcome the opportunity to meet with you to explore how my skills and experience could best meet your team's needs.
|6) That you're grateful for being considered
||Thank you for taking the time to consider my candidacy. I look forward to your call.
7 Experts Offer Their No. 1 Cover Letter Tip
3 Tips to Avoid a Boring, Self-Absorbed Cover Letter
Good vs. Bad: Make the Best of Your Cover Letter
Ready To Jump Start Your Job Search?