The cover letter is the most important product I do for a client. Like the resume, it’s written in partnership.
It’s the first thing a potential employer will read about you.
A great cover letter will get the reader interested and provide a seamless entree to the resume.
Elements of a great cover letter
Respect the reader’s time. Brevity is your friend. I write five or six paragraphs.
This is short enough that it tends to get read entirely (as opposed to merely skimmed).
In the very first sentence, tell them why you’re an excellent fit.
This is your professional motivation for applying. What is it about that particular job that appeals to you so strongly?
There is something refreshing about walking into a room and making your intentions known, and that’s exactly what a good cover letter does.
Highlight your experience. Briefly mention your academic qualifications and a little of your history to show them you’re in the right ballpark for the position.
“I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. For the past three years, I’ve worked at Company Y, helping them build electrical infrastructure which was commended by the CEO for using the latest designs.”
Give employers or recruiters enough of a glimpse to show we’re worth a second look.
Elements of a poor cover letter
If your cover letter is more than a full page you might have a problem (unless stated in the application).
Too many cover letters are simply a narrative form of the resume, citing every job and every educational bullet point.
If you spend two paragraphs talking about what a wonderful place Company X is to work, all you’ve accomplished is telling the reader he works at a nice company. The point is to sell yourself, not show how much you want to get hired.