It used to be easy to know that you needed a cover letter. It wasn’t even a question that you needed to send one with your resume. Today it is a question that is asked often. Classified ads will often state that they only want resumes or tell you to fax them your resume but don’t include whether or not they want a cover letter. So, how do you handle the cover letter dilemma?
Just do it – send a cover letter. They may be annoying and time consuming to write, but the phrase “it’s better to be safe than sorry” really applies in this situation. If you can’t write an effective cover there are template packages that will help you get started.
A cover letter should always accompany a resume unless otherwise specified. Stick to this and you’ll have increased success in your employment campaign. Include specific details that are applicable to the job in your cover letter and allow your resume to give a broader picture.
If you are a recent graduate, you probably don’t have much work experience. If this is the case, use the cover letter to state your accomplishments experiences in your education – such as internships, research projects, etc. You can also connect the course work with the job requirements, which is unfortunately slightly less effective than that former suggestion.
Standard Business Cover Letter Format
Developing a cover letter is an art. A well-written letter should follow a format that is visually appealing and balanced. Using a layout that achieves these goals will improve the readability and clarity of your cover letter. More importantly, it will increase the chance that a recruiter will review your resume and invite you to come in for an interview.
A cover letter should follow the format that has been established for professional business letters. This standardized cover letter format includes the following elements:
- Your contact information (either on a letterhead or typed at the top of the letter)
- Recipient’s address
- Greeting (followed by a colon : and not a comma ,)
- Body (including opening and closing paragraphs)
- Complimentary closing (followed by a comma ,)
- Your signature
- Typed name
- Enclosure line (if you are including a resume)
When writing your letter, it is important to consider how it will appear when it is printed. Don’t bunch everything in your letter at the top of the page. Add spaces between the address lines and date to push the body of your letter into the center of the page. Balance the white space (area of paper with no text) to improve the readability of your letter.
This cover letter format has been tested over time and found to be the most effective format for job seekers. The most difficult section of your cover letter to complete will be the body. Effective opening and closing paragraphs are essential.