The need for a resume is a foregone conclusion – Right!? The need is not so clear for the “much-maligned” cover letter. Actually as an aside, I’m not sure that the cover letter is maligned or not, but it did seem like a cool sentence to write – syntax wise (ooh big word).
The challenge to writing a cover letter is simply that – writing the darn thing.
Most folks – including me – are terrible writers. Some even find writing intimidating. Misspellings, grammatical mistakes, awful syntax and more are frustrating. And after all that, you come to the biggie…
What the heck do you write? And how do you write it? It can be and it is intimidating for many folks.
The “easy” – and I mean that carefully – way to write a cover letter is to use templates and the like. You have plug and print programs like Phil Baker’s OneClick Cover Letter that writes the letter for you. You can access a ton of sample cover letters at sites like MS Office that you can copy and paste. You can head to the library and pick up a book with ready-made letters.
You have many choices.
But for all those templates and programs to be effective, you must first and foremost be able to write one yourself. Without having written a letter or without understanding what goes into a cover letter; you may end up shooting yourself in the foot by using those templates blind.
At the end of day, you may want to use the OneClick Cover Letter or any number of templates out there for no other reason than convenient sake. But you still have to know who to write one.
So, here’s the basics of it…
- The letter is addressed to a person
- Personal pronouns to an absolute minimum
- 3 to 4 paragraphs with no more than 3 sentences per paragraph.
- 1st paragraph answers why you are writing.
- 2nd paragraph answers what you can do for the company.
- 3rd paragraph backs up the 2nd paragraph.
- 4th paragraph asks for action of the company’s part.
- Use direct, active sentences.
- Use the jargon of the company and industry you are applying to.
- Lift verbiage from job description to write the 2nd paragraph.
- Proofread again.
- Give it to someone else to proofread.
Stay within the structure and practice writing cover letters. Lastly, make sure that the cover letter and resume are in sync with each other.
And you should be good.
Here’s to your success!