Job Search Tips: 3 things about writing the perfect cover letter

When applying for a job, enclosing a cover letter with your resume is usually a necessity. But what exactly is a cover letter and what do you need to touch on when writing one?

The Basics

A cover letter is your chance to make a first impression on your potential employer before you meet them face-to-face. You can say everything that you can’t on your resume, such as why you want the position and why it would be a perfect fit for you. The letter should be professionally formatted with a business heading including your return address, the address of the business, and the full name and title of the recipient.

The letter should be kept relatively short (3-4 paragraphs), but should be very well written, clear, and error-free. This is your chance to expand upon your resume and really introduce yourself to the company, so present yourself in a favorable, professional light.

What to Cover

In the body of your letter, be sure to do the following or include these subjects:

  • State why you are writing: identify the position you are interested in
  • Explain how you heard of the position and who you have already been in contact with at the company
  • Discuss why you are interested in the position and the company: show that you’ve done your research
  • Demonstrate that you understand the requirements of the position and that you are qualified to perform them well
  • Expand upon relevant experience or skills that are mentioned in your resume: include specific examples and connect them to the job you’re applying for
  • State your career interests and show your enthusiasm for the purported job position

The Different Types

Cover letters can accompany resumes for two main reasons: to inquire and to apply.

Letters of inquiry are used to contact a company that you are interested in working for, but are not sure if there are any current employment opportunities. Still do your research and mention specific positions that you would be qualified for. Stress how much the company appeals to you, how compatible it is with your career goals and strengths, and what you would personally bring to the company.

Letters of application are sent in response to a specific job that you saw advertised or heard about through correspondence. The main goal of this kind of letter is to convince the addressee to schedule an interview with you – get them interested in you and wanting to learn more.


Add yours
  1. 1
    Catherine Jones

    A very good post.

    I agree with every point.

    A good cover letter really is a great way to make a first good impression and too many applicants churn out the same old standard letter which ads nothing to their resume.

  2. 2
    Pete Kistler

    Catherine, thanks for the feedback. I enjoyed the content on your site, – readers, check it out if you get the chance.

    Making hiring decisions is incredibly difficult, especially when you’re staring down a large stack of resumes. Although I can’t speak for the majority of employers, I personally have found that I can learn more about an applicant from their cover letter than their resume.

    Their cover letter gives me a glimpse of their personality, their goals, and most importantly, how they communicate. Because communication skills are incredibly important to employers, no matter what industry they’re in.

    Use your cover letter to prove that you’re an effective communicator, and you’ve got my interest piqued.

    – Pete

  3. 4
    Chris Perry

    I agree with all the points. Great article. In addition to doing research and expressing interest, It is also essential to communicate your personal brand and how your brand, experience and your skills will bring value to the organization. Obviously, the employers will infer some of this value from what you write, but don’t make them do all of the work, let them know that you know how you will deliver positive results and make a positive impact upon hire.

  4. 5

    This would work great if it was the 80s. These days we’re confined to submitting through email to companies who prefer to be anonymous. They don’t read the cover letters anymore.

  5. 6
    Trace Cohen

    That is sometimes true, as some employers try to stay anonymous. A lot of jobs though are still looking for cover letters along with a resume though as it can really expand upon certain points and fill in the gaps.

    I feel that a cover letter is very telling about the person who is applying. I prefer them.

Comments are closed.