Great Cover Letters Tips

Your resume may be the first thing hiring managers look at when you apply for a job, but many candidates tend to forget about another important part of the application process: the cover letter.

Matthew Rowles, business development manager at staffing firm Kavaliro, noted that employers don’t always read cover letters due to the massive volume of applications received for each job opening. However, some will use it as the next step in candidate screening after reading resumes.

“People [who read cover letters] do it after the fact,” added Jeff Oddo, president of building maintenance management company City Wide Maintenance. “They look at your skills first on your resume, and then read the cover letter [to decide] if they want to bring you in for an interview.”

Oddo, who is involved in the hiring process for his company, noted that cover letters tend to be ignored when they’re generic and template-style. Rowles agreed, noting that each new application should come with a new, unique cover letter outlining why you are qualified and the best fit for that specific position.

“Do not simply send the same generic cover letter for every position,” Rowles told Business News Daily. “Recruiters and HR managers will recognize those cover letters and skip right over them. If you want your cover letter to be read, make it uniquely suited for that particular role.”

In addition to using your cover letter to expand on your key qualifications, you can also address unique topics, such as employment gaps on your resume, a willingness to relocation or the desire for a career change, said Crystal Wittman, head of global recruitment center at talent acquisition and management firm Alexander Mann Solutions.

“If there’s a need to relocate, use the cover letter as an opportunity to point out that you’re open to relocation, especially if you already have a connection to the area through family or school,” Wittman said. “This will help alleviate any apprehensions that a hiring manager has about hiring someone who is new to the area. If you’re changing careers or industries, relate examples of your experience that will help you prepare [for the change] and are relevant to the new job.”

Wittman also advised including information about any internal connections or referrals from current employees at the company early on in the letter. Do this by including the person’s name and department. For example, you could write, “A former colleague of mine, (name), is a director in your marketing department. She alerted me to a new role in your sales organization for which my skills and experience would be very well-suited,” Wittman said.

Finally, before you submit your cover letter, be sure to check it over for spelling and grammatical errors and take the time to convert the document to PDF format, which makes it easier for the hiring manager to access and forward your letter.

“We like PDFs,” Oddo said. “Often, I am mobile when I’m reading these applications, and sometimes phones don’t open documents the same way a tablet or computer would.”

Cover letter examples

Based on these tips, here are two sample cover letters that you can customize to suit your particular needs and situation. Before you apply for any job, be sure to thoroughly read the job listing, as they may ask you to address specific things in your cover letter.

Traditional cover letter

Here is an example of a traditional cover letter that outlines your skills and qualifications. This type of letter does best for highly professional occupations that value straightforward, to-the-point information.

Dear [hiring manager’s name],

I spotted your LinkedIn posting about the assistant editor opening at Business News Daily, and I am thrilled to submit my application for the position. During my career in the media industry, I have gained a great deal of editorial experience that would make me a strong asset to your team.

During my time at New York University, I held several internships and freelance writing jobs that introduced me to the world of modern journalism. After graduation, I landed a managing editor position at [publication name] that helped me develop and hone the leadership, organization and strategic planning skills that will help me succeed as your assistant editor. With the assistance of the interns and freelancers I supervise, I have raised the monthly web traffic of [publication] by more than 50 percent and nearly tripled its overall social media following.

In addition to having the necessary background for this position, I also feel that working for Business News Daily would be an excellent next step in my career. I have been following your articles on social media, and I think your publication adds a unique and valuable perspective on entrepreneurship, small business issues and careers. As a millennial myself, I especially enjoy the pieces you’ve published on Generation Y in the workforce.