YES, You Do Need a Cover Letter!

Why is writing a cover letter so important? Because it is often the first opportunity you will have to introduce yourself, and your resume, to a potential employer. Part of making a great first impression is including a carefully crafted and professional cover letter with your resume when you apply for a job. Much like you target your resume for specific positions, you will also need to target your cover letter. Job postings, information interviews, and company websites provide excellent information for the development of a focused cover letter. These resources are also useful for resume development and interview preparation. Your cover letter allows you to respond to what the employer is looking for in a direct and strategic way, and share a bit about your interest in working for the employer.


Do you want your cover letter to dazzle a potential employer?
Here are 10 tips to help make your cover letter stand out:

  • One typed page in length – your cover letter need only highlight your experience, education, skills, and qualities that relate to what the employer is looking for and focus on relevant achievements to the position.
  • Personal contact information – I like to use the same header on all of my job search documents (cover letter, resume, references) as it provides a consistent look and feel.
  • Date – the date on your cover letter should correspond with the date you are submitting your application; a recycled and outdated cover letter does not give the impression that you are serious about your job search.
  • Name and contact information of the person you are sending the resume to – this information is usually available on the job posting or it can be obtained through an information interview, the company website, or a network contact.
  • The job you are applying for (job title or number) – this information will help to get your application where it needs to go and ensure that the content of your cover letter and resume are reviewed in the context in which they were written.
  • Salutation – a specific salutation to the person you are directing your application to (be sure to get the correct spelling of the person’s name and confirm their gender) is preferable to a generic salutation such as “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom it May Concern”. If you are not able to obtain a specific name you can use “Attention Human Resources” or simply omit the salutation line and reference the job title or job number (RE: Production Manager – Job ID 12345). Taking the time to find out who will be reading your application shows your genuine interest in the position and could make the difference between having your application read or shredded!
  • How you learned about the position and why you are interested in the job – you can use this information as points of reference for the development of your cover letter. This information also shows the employer that you took the time to learn something about them and that you are confident you have what it takes to work for them.
  • How you meet the skills, experience, and education the employer is looking for – job postings provide very valuable information and can be used to formulate this section of the cover letter. You can create a chart with what the employer is looking for on one side and your corresponding skills and qualifications on the other so that you don’t miss anything when you write your cover letter. Remember to use specific achievements and accomplishments related to what the employer is looking for.
  • Your availability for an interview and how and when you will follow up – show your interest in meeting with the employer in person by letting them know your availability and when you will follow up with them to schedule an interview. Once you commit in your letter to following up make sure that you take action.
  • Closing and signature – signing your cover letter may seem like a very small detail but it is a very important detail – it makes your application ‘real’. Some closing examples include: sincerely; yours truly; respectfully; kind regards; etc.

If you are using a previous version of your cover letter be sure to read it thoroughly and adjust your contact information (if necessary), the date, the name and contact information of the person you are sending your application to, the job title or number, and the content of your letter. Attending to these details is critical to your credibility as a potential employee. I remember receiving a cover letter for a position that was dated for 2 years previous and was written for a completely different job. The person did not get an interview. Save copies of the cover letters you write by job title and date submitted for easy reference!

A well written and focused cover letter WILL get responses – happy writing!

For a FREE 30 minute cover letter review / consultation please feel free to contact Paula directly at or 780.589.2245.