A Quick Guide to Writing Cover Letters for Resumes

I. Overview

When you’re applying for a job, you will often notice that employers will usually ask you to send them your cover letter to accompany your curriculum vitae or resume. This is an indication that cover letters are important documents and not something optional for you if you wish to be seriously considered for the job you are applying for.

Therefore, you should take cover letters seriously and take extra care in ensuring that the cover letter you send will be a good one.

II. What Cover Letters Are

But in the first place, what are cover letters? Cover letters are not just any kind of letter. They are business letters. They serve several purposes.

  • First, they serve to introduce you to the employer or company you are applying for.
  • Second, they serve to help you explain to the employer or company what your expertise, experience, specific skills, and educational background are.
  • Third, they serve to give you the opportunity to “make the case” to the employer or company why you are the best person for the job or the person best suited for the position.
  • Fourth, they serve to explain the contents of your resume or curriculum vitae.
  • And fifth, they give the employer or company the chance to get a glimpse of the applicant’s personality, temperament, and way of thinking. Of course, cover letters are not enough for the employer to thoroughly assess the applicant’s competence and character, but it can at least give him a general “feel” or first impression of the applicant.

III. What is the importance of using cover letters?

Without cover letters, an applicant’s application would be very incomplete. A resume or curriculum vitae provides a list of an applicant’s educational and employment history, but without a cover letter, they will be a chore for the employer to make sense of. Cover letters, then, give the applicant the opportunity to explain to the employer how the competencies, skills, and background information in his or her resume are connected with what they are looking for in their ideal employee.

In a very real sense, then, your cover letter can either make or break you. Your getting that interview or job will depend largely on whether your cover letter is good or not.

IV. Some Tips

Since cover letters are very important, you should make sure that you write them well. Here are several tips on how you can do that:

  1. Know what a good cover letter looks like. Search the web for good examples of cover letters and model your own cover letter after them.
  2. Make use of templates. There are lots of great templates you can use out there. Remember that cover letters are business letters. Hence, they are formal documents and should follow a specific format.
  3. Read the company’s job posting carefully. What exactly are the traits they are looking for in a job candidate? Take note of those traits and reflect them in your resume.
  4. Learn as much as you can about the company. Who are they? What do they value? What is their philosophy?
  5. Learn the full name of the person in the company in charge of Human Resource or Hiring, and address him or her personally in your cover letter.
  6. Make sure that your cover letter is not generic. Generic letters are impersonal. Personalize them.
  7. In your cover letter and resume, highlight those qualities and competencies that the employer is searching for.
  8. Expound on your qualities and qualifications by telling stories. Use anecdotes. Stories are powerful.
  9. Be conscious of punctuation, style, and grammar. Your style should be formal yet personal and unique. You should have a voice that stands out. Avoid sounding like a robot. Your punctuation and grammar should be spotless.
  10. Express enthusiasm in your letter. Show that you are passionate about your work and that you are excited to work in their company.

V. A Sample Cover Letter

There are so many kinds of cover letters out there. They differ in tone and style. Here’s an example of one particular tone:

Hi Daniel,

I’m John and I’m a published writer, content creator, and blogger based here in Singapore. I saw your post in Upwork and I’m hereby submitting my application for your consideration.

Here are a few things I’d like you to know about myself:

  1. Many of my writings have appeared in The Singapore Graphic, our country’s leading newsweekly and literary magazine, and The Singapore Daily Inquirer, our country’s most respected and widely-read national newspaper.
  2. I’m a Competent Communicator in Toastmasters and I once was the club champion in our Humorous Speech Contest.
  3. Me and my wife are baristas and we once ran a coffee catering business.
  4. I’ve been blogging via WordPress since 2013. My blog has been featured in Freshly Pressed by WordPress.

Attached are a few samples of my published writing.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

 

John Chan

VI. Make Your Cover Letter Unique

Don’t just copy this or that cover letter. You have to modify yours in such a way that it has your unique personality and voice. Make sure your cover letter grabs your employer’s attention from the first sentence and give him good reasons why he or she should hire you.

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