Do I always need to include a cover letter with my resume?
Yes. You may feel it is a waste of time as some employers don’t bother reading them. However other employers see them as evidence that you are thorough and serious about opportunities with their company and serious about your job search.
What format should I use?
Write the letter in standard business letter format with your information at the top in the identical format as it appears on your resume.
How long should it be?
Don’t submit more than one page. Hiring personnel have limited time and will not read more than several paragraphs. The cover letter simply highlights what is to come on the following resume.
Should I include salary information?
It depends. Generally, you should never include salary information or requirements in a cover letter. However if the job advertisement states that it is required, then you need to include it. As a rule though, salary discussion should not come into play until after a first interview unless the employer brings it up.
Can I use the same cover letter for every job for which I apply?
Target every cover letter to each specific job and company to which you apply. If you don’t, your letter will not highlight the most relevant qualities you would bring to a specific job. If you submit a cover letter that is clearly not written for that specific position you will give the impression that you are too lazy to bother tailoring your cover letter. A smart suggestion is have one general cover letter saved on your computer that you alter a bit for each company or each job for which you apply.
What if I don’t know the name of the addressee?
Do not address the letter to Human Resources and write “Dear Sir or Madam”. Find out the name of the person who will be reviewing resumes to determine which candidates to interview. This demonstrates to the resume reviewer that you took the time to the seek information and personalises the letter. Do some research about the company online or call the company and ask directly. Unless you have completely exhausted all means and cannot find out to whom you should address the letter, you should have a name on the letter.
Should I mention why I am in the job market?
If you are returning to the workforce after a break of a year or more, explain why in a positive manner, mentioning any volunteer work in which you were involved or additional training you completed during that time.
You can explain that your former company closed or you were laid off because of mass redundancies. If you were fired say nothing.
What content should I include?
Discuss how your professional attributes, accomplishments, and experience meet the employer’s needs and are a match to the available position. Just include highlights and do not simply repeat what is on your resume. Your closing paragraph should request a time to meet to discuss employment opportunities. Thank the person for their time and consideration. You may also briefly re-state why you are the best candidate for the job.
How can I make it stand out in a dynamic way?
Write statements that are employer-focused and value-based. Arouse the interest of the reader. Illustrate the value you bring to the table by referring to your achievements in the resume. Make them keen to read the rest of your application. Consider what’s in it for them and make that clear. Use powerful verbs and industry keywords in describing your qualities, including keywords from the job description. Subtly inject your personality and add sizzle with distinctive impact statements about your abilities (no arrogance though) to keep the letter from being boring.