In today’s competitive job market, cover letters are almost as important as the actual resume. It serves as a form of introduction, and since you are attempting to get an interview from this person, formalities are key. They show that you are professional, and that you take the appropriate measures to get where you need to go. Cover letters should be professional in style and in diction, and should showcase your reasoning and desires for applying to that job. Your resume says why you are great for the job; your cover letter should say why the job is great for you.
Cover letters should be formatted as carefully as any standard business letter. You should have your name, address, phone number and email address at the top left corner, like this:
City, State Zip Code
That information should be followed by the date: month, day, and year, on a single line with double spaces above and below. After the date you should include the name, title, organization, and address associated with the position and person who should see your resume.
Name of Organization
Street or P. O. Box Address
City, State Zip Code
The body of your letter should follow after this properly formatted information. By formatting the cover letter correctly, you are simply showing the employer that you mean business. It is always easier to be taken seriously when you follow the proper steps and guidelines.
You want to try and your keep the cover letter relatively short, maybe four paragraphs total. The first should say what it is that you are applying for, and perhaps where you learned about the job.
The second paragraph should state something about your qualifications, such as one or two professional certifications, degrees or honors that showcase your interest in that field. The last 2-3 paragraphs should include the most important information. Anything that can fill in the gaps left by your resume should be included here.
You should provide reasons describing why you are interested in the position. It is not really necessary to include information about your work ethic or skills set, but rather include things about your interests and your ultimate goals.
If you are trying to move into a different line of work, this is where you should discuss your reasoning behind the switch. Perhaps you have plenty of restaurant experience from high school or college, but you are now trying to move into sales. It is important to include things about your versatility, as well as the similarities you can draw between your restaurant positions and the sales position for which you are applying.
If you will be emailing cover letters, it is best to use them as the body of the email, rather than creating an attachment. For this reason, you do not want to fool around with the formatting too much, as the letter can become skewed based on the different email providers. This is true for resumes as well. It is always a good idea to have an email-friendly version of anything you might be sending. Many people are wary of opening attachments so your resume or cover letter might never be seen if you attach it.
The only time when you might not need a cover letter is if you are meeting the employer for the first time in person, and handing him your resume. You can obviously introduce yourself and explain anything to him in person during that time. If it will only be a short meeting, you may still want to include a cover letter.
If you are unsure how to get started with your cover letter, there are tons of different templates and great resume examples to help you on your way.