Pre-Application: Job Search Strategy
Career Marketing Tools: Resume, Cover Letter & LinkedIn Profile
Networking, Recruiters & Job Boards
Interviewing & Negotiating Offers

Cover Letters

Since the cover letter serves as a door-opener, it’s important to formally introduce yourself by explaining how your values and goals align with the hiring organization. This is especially important if your work is outcome-driven and focused on organizational impact.

Whenever possible, address your letter to a specific individual, the person in charge of interviewing and hiring (the hiring authority). Larger companies often have standard procedures for dealing with solicited and unsolicited resumes and cover letters. Sending your employment documents to a specific person increases the chances that they will be seriously reviewed by the company.

The body of your introduction can be organized in many ways. However, it is important to include, who you are and why you are writing. It can also state how you learned about the position and why you are interested in it. (This might be the right opportunity to briefly relate your education and/or experience to the requirements of the position.)

In some instances, you may have previously met the reader of your cover letter. In these instances, it is acceptable to use your introduction to remind your reader of who you are and briefly discuss a specific topic of your previous conversation(s).

Most important is to briefly overview why your values and goals align with the organization’s and how you will help them. You should also touch on how you match the position requirements. By reviewing how you align with the organization and how your skills match what they’re looking for, you can forecast the contents of your cover letter before you move into your argument.

Your argument is an important part of your cover letter because it allows you to persuade the hiring manager why you are a good fit for the company and the role. Carefully choose what to include in your argument. You want your argument to be as powerful as possible, but it shouldn’t cloud your main points by including excessive or irrelevant details about your past. In addition, use your resume (and refer to it) as the source of “data” you will use and expand on in your cover letter.

In your argument, you should try to:

  • Show your reader you possess the most important skills s/he seeks (you’re a good match for the organization’s mission/goals and job requirements)
  • Convince your reader that the company will benefit from hiring you (how you will help them)
  • Include in each paragraph a strong reason why your employer should hire you and how they will benefit from the relationship.
  • Maintain an upbeat/personable tone
  • Avoid explaining your entire resume but use your resume as a source of data to support your argument (the two documents should work together)
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