"There are two types of cover letters—those that draw the reader in and entice him or her to read your resume, and those that eliminate you from running before your resume gets read." The Experienced Professional
Your resume should always have a good COVER LETTER attached, as a personal communication between you and the individual who receives the resume. Most people are intimidated by this task but it is not hard of you think of it as a friendly, simple communication from one person (who is looking for a good job) to another (who is looking for a good employee).It is in the interests of both parties to make a good connection!
- Be sure to address it—by name and title—to the person who could hire you. This requires in some cases doing some research. When it is impossible to learn their name, use their functional title, such as "Dear Manager." You may have to guess ("Dear Pastoral Search Committee") but never say "To whom it may concern" or "Dear Sir or Madam"!
- Show that you know something about the company—research them through various methods, i.e., Yahoo or other web sites. Express that you are aware of their current interests, priorities, or new products.
- Express your enthusiasm and interest in this line of work and this company. Use this to show how you can be an asset to the company or give a well-written story of how you have developed as a person.
- Project warmth and friendliness while still being professional. Avoid any generic phrases such as "Enclosed please find. . . ." This is a letter to a real live person!
- Set yourself apart from the crowd. Identify at least one thing about you that is unique—say a special talent for getting along with everybody at work, or some unusual skill that goes beyond the essential requirements of the position—something that distinguishes you AND is relevant to the job. (Then, if several others are equally qualifies for the job, your uniqueness may be the reason to choose YOU.)
- Be specific about what you are asking for and what you are offering. Make it clear which position you’re applying for and just what experience or skill you have that relates to that position.
- Take the initiative about the next step whenever possible, and be specific. "I’ll call your office early next week to see if we could meet and discuss this job opening," for example; OR—if you’re exploring for unannounced jobs that may come up—"I’ll call your office next week to see if we could meet soon, to discuss your company’s needs for help in the near future."
- Keep it brief—a few short paragraphs, all on one page.