By Megan Nelson
Most US companies require applicants to include a cover letter. A cover letter introduces you to the employer, highlights your best qualities, and explains why you would be a good fit for the position.
Many cover letters are ineffective because the applicant is unfamiliar with the purpose of a cover letter or may have never written one before. However, cover letters are a very important aspect of the application process and must be well-written in order to gain the attention of a potential employer.
There is an art to writing an effective cover letter. Using the following steps, prospective employees can highlight their assets in a positive and effective light:
- Create a header for your cover letter that is the same as your resume, as if it’s your own “personal” stationary.
- Ensure your cover letter is formatted properly:
- 1-inch margins
- Recipient address
- Salutation (Dear [insert recipient name here]:)
- Single-spaced body; double-spaced between paragraphs
- Closing (Sincerely,)
- Four blank lines for your signature (to be written in ink)
- Your typed name
- Introduce yourself by highlighting three main attributes that you possess, which should be relevant to the position you are applying for, in the first paragraph.
- Explain how you developed those attributes and how it will help you perform the job in the second paragraph.
- Thank the potential employer for their time, tell them how and when to contact you, and restate your interest in the position in the third and final paragraph.
This is a very simple but effective template that you can adjust for each position you are applying to. A cover letter is your chance to make a lasting first impression. This is your time to shine, so make sure to do it right!