This is a post by Jobtrakr staff writer Rachael Del Pino, owner of Accendo Careers. If you’d like to be a guest writer here on Jobtrakr, we would love to have you. Just follow these guest writer guidelines.
In last week’s article, I told you that cover letters are, in fact, a necessary evil. As tedious as they can be to write, they are absolutely worth the effort if they set you apart from the competition. So, what is the right way to write one?
Keep it short and to the point. The entire document, from start to finish, should be no longer than a page. A cover letter that is between two to four paragraphs is more than sufficient.
In the first paragraph, indicate the job title you are applying for, the name of the company and how you heard about the position. State why you are interested in working for the company; try to make it specific and compelling in order to differentiate yourself from the competition.
In the second paragraph, give detailed examples of how your qualifications relate to the position you are applying for. You can use keywords or phrases directly from the job description to highlight the specific required/desired skills that you bring to the table.
Since the bulk of these details will be in your resume, just provide a high level overview of your most significant and related accomplishments. Use quantifiable data (specific numbers, money saved/made, etc) if possible, to legitimize the accomplishments you are highlighting. Here is an example of this:
“I am very good at gathering and analyzing data in order to find a workable solution that will maximize efficiency and reduce costs as much as possible. One recent project completed at [company name] involved working on a development team to create an analytical tool to analyze and quantify potential energy savings. After analyzing the data, I was able to generate $3.2 million in energy cost savings.”
You can finish the cover letter with your closing paragraph, unless there are additional clarifying points you want to make about your resume. If so, use another paragraph for that.
For example, if you are planning to self-relocate to the city where the job is located, but your address and work experiences are in a different city, explain the situation. Also, if you are changing careers you can use this paragraph to explain that and to describe what your transferrable skills are.
Sometimes employers ask you to address specific questions in the cover letter (i.e. salary requirements or certifications). You can use this paragraph to answer those questions as well.
The final paragraph should state that your resume is enclosed or attached so that they can review your background and qualifications in further detail. Make sure you reiterate your interest in the position, thank them for their time and provide your contact information so the employer knows how they can reach you.
This isn’t the only formula for writing a cover letter, but it is a useful guideline and can help you get started if you’re having trouble. While cover letters aren’t necessarily difficult to write, they do require some additional time and effort. However, the extra work is always worth it if it puts you one step closer to getting the job!
Rachael Del Pino has significant experience in recruiting and talent management for Fortune 100 companies, as well as a master’s degree in Management with an HR concentration from the University of Central Florida. She also owns Accendo Careers, a career development and coaching company. She has an innate passion for helping people reach their highest career potential.