Even in today’s fast paced world, when applying to a job most employers will ask for a cover letter along with your resume. A cover letter is a document submitted with a job application outlining the applicant’s qualifications and interest in the open position. A cover letter is your introduction to the employer and is typically looked at before the resume, so make your cover letter count.
The question often comes up, what information can I put on my cover letter that’s not already on my resume? This article will provide that answer, as well as let you know what information must be on your cover letter to make the hiring manager want to find out more about you and continue on to your resume.
What is your objective
A cover letter needs to be clear and concise, starting with your objective. On a cover letter, or even a resume for that matter, when applying for a job it is pretty clear your objective is to land the position. A good objective statement should be more than just getting the job. You want to inform the hiring manager what your employment goals are and share a quick summary of where you have been so far and how that experience should help you succeed in the job for which you are applying. When writing your objective state clearly the type of job you are looking for and how your experience applies. Remember your cover letter needs to stay to one page and be to the point, so only highlight experience that pertains to the specific position you are applying for. Hiring managers will be able to tell if you are using a generic cover letter.
Address any gaps in your resume
Resumes are written in chronological order and should always include dates of employment. Many job seekers have gaps of employment due to one thing or another, and it can leave a hiring manager wondering what happened and raise a red flag. Cover letters are a great place to address gaps of employment, or other concerns regarding your employment track record. If a person has been raising a family and left the job market for 5 years, address it in the cover letter. If you are looking for a position, because you were downsized, let the hiring manager know in the cover letter. The cover letter is the space to voice things that your resume does not leave room for.
Your cover letter is a place to sell yourself and get the employer to want to know more about you. You do that by writing a clear objective, matching your skills to the opening and highlighting your awards and major accomplishments. It does not matter if your resume highlights the same information. You cover letter is often the first impression of you and you want to leave the hiring manager wanting to know more. If you have won any awards or been recognized by management, put it in your cover letter. Also try to match any accomplishments you have with the requirements of the job you are applying for. See our sample cover letter for an example of how to do this.
A lot of job seekers put together a nice cover letter, but forget one important thing, contact information. Like your resume your cover letter should include your name, address, email, phone numbers and your LinkedIn address, if you have one. An employer may like what they read in the cover letter and decide to call you for an interview. Make it easy for employers to reach out to you.
Be organized and match the style of your resume
As mentioned earlier in this article, your cover letter is often the first impression the employer has of you, so make sure your cover letter is well written and your thoughts are organized. Your cover letter should also match the style of your resume. Use the same font, font size and layout as your resume. This shows you are organized and pay attention to detail.
Employers always want to know your salary and benefits. It can be the first thing that rules a candidate in or out. Number one, they want to make sure you do not make more than the new job can pay you. However, if you make too little it is a sign you may not have enough experience. If an advertised job requests your salary history, include what you currently make and your salary expectations. Only include your salary information if they ask for it. If a company does not ask for salary do not include it. You do not want to be ruled out before you have the chance to interview.
It is not uncommon for job seekers to view the cover letter as unimportant. They’ve focused their time and effort into putting together a stellar resume, and view the cover letter as nothing more than something required, but insignificant. In fact, this opportunity to introduce yourself can determine whether your resume leaps to the top of the pile or get overlooked. After reviewing our recommendations, you’ll be on your way to landing the interview and taking the first step in obtaining your dream job.
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