A cover letter is quite possibly the most important part of the job application process. The cover letter gives you a chance to explain more about yourself or your experiences in relation to the job in which you are applying. It can also be an opportunity to explain any gaps in your work history or other questionable aspects of your resume. The cover letter is the first thing that a hiring individual may see, therefore, it is important to make a good impression. When it comes to getting jobs, the cover letter can "make" or "break" you.
There are a few things that you should keep in mind when writing a cover letter:
Speak intelligently. This does not mean that you must use words uncommon to the average person, but speak with confidence in your writing. Your cover letter needs to be properly formatted without any mistakes. Cover letter templates are available for various jobs online. If you choose to write it on your own, organize your paragraphs into a format that flows. Start with an introduction of who you are, followed by what experiences you have had that relate to the job and follow up with why you want the job. Use proper grammar. If the hiring manager is impressed by your intellect, they may give you a chance at a job that you may not be fully qualified to do. They may have faith that you can learn quickly.
The more personal you can make your cover letter, the better, so try to seek out the hiring manager's name and title. You can do this by searching on the internet or by calling the company and asking prior to sending off your cover letter and resume. You can also check out cover letter examples here to see examples of ways other people personalize their cover letters. Remember to speak respectfully. This is a job environment, and everyone has superiors, so remember to always address your hiring manager with "Mr." or "Ms." and their proper occupational title.
Be yourself. They want to know something about who you are. The more they know about you, the more they can relate to you. The more they relate to you, the more unforgettable you become. Psychological studies show that the more that you know about someone, the less likely you are capable of hurting them. This idea can be adapted to the job seeking situation. At the same time, you do not want to write so much that you bore them.
Relate your experiences to the criteria listed in the specific job posting that you are applying for. People want to know how you will benefit their business. The more experience that you have relating to the job, the less they believe they will have to teach you. This is always a benefit in the hiring manager's eyes. Everybody has work to do, and the more time they have to spend teaching you, the less time they have to do their own work.
State why you want to work there and what you expect to gain from the experience. They need to respect you as well. If you are clear about your expectations from a job or work environment (with the exception of salary expectations at this point in the process), they are more likely to take you seriously. Business relationships, like all relationships, function best when both parties demand and give respect.
Finally, let them know in your salutation that you will follow up with them in a week and that you appreciate their time. In an age where email applications are taking over, you have a lot of competition. You must be aggressive if you want to get the job. Make the follow up call yourself. Politely ask for the hiring manager and follow up to ensure that they received your information. If they have not read it yet, they will, just because you called.
Remember, you can have a great resume, but if your cover letter is unclear or poorly written, the hiring manager may never see it. Make a cover letter that is both technical and psychological. In today's world, getting a hiring manager to look at your resume is the hardest part. If they invest time past the cover letter, more than likely, you will get a chance at an interview. Then it is all up to you. So good luck and happy job hunting!