What is a cover letter? To sum it up, a cover letter is a one-page document that complements your resume and its purpose is to introduce you and your skills to an employer. It is basically a way to tell an employer why you would be a good fit for their open position. Think about it from an employer’s point of view, they receive tons of resumes and cover letters for each open position therefore your cover letter is a great way to sell yourself. First impressions matter and showing why you are qualified, capable, motivated and overall a good fit for a company through your cover letter will help you get one step closer to landing your next position. Here are 5 helpful tips to write an effective cover letter.
Read the Job Description and Keep it Open
No two cover letters should be the same. If you have a generic cover letter that you are sending out to every employer, stop it. Think of writing a cover letter much like an open book test. You don’t have to go crazy coming up with big words to sell yourself, the answers to what you should write in your cover letter are right in the job description. Personalize it to match what is in the job description requirements and necessary skills.
Proper Contact Information
It may seem obvious but be sure that your full contact information is at the heading of your cover letter. This allows the employer to get familiar with your name and easily find your contact information. A proper heading should include:
First Name and Last, Street Address City, State Zip, Phone and Email
You can play around with the format but make sure this information is on your cover letter. Furthermore, aside from your own information, it is important to include the information of the organization you are applying to as well.This should be formatted like a proper letter:
Hiring Manager Name (If you cannot find the direct person, just start with Company)
Extra tip: Please try and find the human resources contact and address it to that person.
Immediately Express Specific Interest and Qualification
Just like a resume has to grab an employer’s attention right away, so does a cover letter. Remember, most of the time yours is not the only one they receive, therefore you have to keep them reading. How? Remember, as creative as the PR and communications field is, a human resources person is reading your application and all they want to know is “does this person qualify for this position and how?” It is important in your first paragraph to specifically show interest and skills. Revert back to the job description for help. Here is an example:
Job – PR Manager
Company – XYZ company
Job Description – Previous experience in PR at a hospital
Cover letter introduction – I would like to express my interest in the PR Manager position at XYZ Company. My experience in PR working for LMN hospital makes me a strong candidate for consideration.
You can word it anyway you want but be specific.
The Body Is Where You Shine
Nobody knows you better than you. This is where you take your skills, your experience and your education and roll it up into a paragraph or two that sells you to the employer. Again remember to use key words that were in the job description but don’t be generic. If an employer wants someone who knows how to write press releases don’t just say “I know how to write press releases” rather you can say “For the last three years I have written press releases daily. My previous course work in press release writing and continued attendance in webinar training allowed me to hone and further my skills.”
Side of caution, DO NOT replicate sentences from your resume.
Be Thoughtful and Thankful
You’ve come to the end of your cover letter and now what? Many people overthink this step. Your introduction and body have taken care of selling yourself to the hiring person. All you really have to do is take this short paragraph to thank them for their time and consideration. No need to overdo it here.
Extra tip: PROOFREAD!
John Kesaris, M.S., is the PRSA Coordinator of Corporate Development and Industry Partnerships. A mentor at heart, he has several years of experience working with college students and professionals guiding their careers. John commits himself to making sure that everyone who uses the PRSA Jobcenter (employer and jobseeker) has a positive and productive experience. On his time away from his work, he enjoys watching, playing and coaching sports. Go “Goodfellas”! LGR.