There is a lot of literature out there suggesting that cover letters are out-dated and are rarely read by recruiters, Human Resources managers, and hiring managers. For the most part, I would agree with this. Personally, I rarely (if ever) read cover letters.
That said, there are times when a cover letter is a necessary part of your job application package. Specifically, if a job posting clearly states that you must apply with both a resume and cover letter, you must ensure that you include a cover letter with your application. Sometimes a cover letter is sought for roles where written communication is a key skill set for the role, and is used as a way to assess a job applicant’s written communication skills.
For those times where a cover letter is necessary, I have a free template available, which you can access here.
Elements of a Cover Letter
Salutation – if possible, address your cover letter to a specific person. If you do not have the hiring manager’s name, try to look them up on LinkedIn. If you’re still having a difficult time finding the specific person, you can use “to whom it may concern.”
Paragraph 1 – this is your introduction paragraph where you would mention your generic job title, the job title of the role to which you are applying, and name your top 1-2 strengths as it relates to the role.
Paragraph 2 – here is where you should highlight your interpersonal skills and accomplishments. You can use the top 2-3 accomplishments from your resume and add in a bit more context – things like the people who may have been involved or company decisions that were made as a result of your accomplishment.
Paragraph 3 – as mentioned in previous posts, research is a critical part of your job search strategy. In this paragraph, make mention of a notable research finding that would impact the organization in the short-term (i.e. recent acquisition, or company merger, etc.). Then mention how your skills will help the organization through their transition period.
Paragraph 4 – close your letter with your key strengths and a call to action, such as inviting the employer to contact you directly to discuss your background further.
Although a cover letter isn’t always a necessary part of your job application, there are times where it is essential. Specifically, if a job advertisement asks for both a resume and cover letter, be sure to tailor your cover letter to the role and company.
If you have any other suggestions on what to include in the cover letter, please feel free to add your suggestions in the comment section. For personalized advice, please feel free to contact me directly!