How to Write a Cover Letter

Posted: 8/7/2013

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager

The cover letter is sort of a relic from the past; a holdover from the days of paper and mailing in or faxing your resume to prospective employers. However, it can be a powerful tool in your job search if used properly. 

1. DON’T include your cover letter as the first page of your resume. That’s annoying to most recruiters and managers and they will skip it altogether and jump directly to your resume.

2. DON’T attach it as a separate attachment. It won’t get opened! Again, the recruiter or hiring manager will jump right to your resume.

3. DO write your cover letter as your email introduction to the recruiter or hiring manager. This is where it will get noticed.

4. DON’T make it too long. About one paragraph is ideal; much more than that and it won’t all get read.

5. DO tailor your cover letter to the individual position, company and manager! This is the BIGGEST MISTAKE I see. I get cover letters addressed to other people and for different positions than the one being applied for. Instead of working FOR you, this kind of cover letter works AGAINST you, as I look at it as a lack of attention to detail. You would be better off with no cover letter at all.

6. DON’T cover all your experience in your cover letter. That’s what your resume is for.

In a nutshell, your cover letter should introduce yourself, make a quick, one to two sentence synopsis of your background, then address how YOU will help the company be successful. That’s another thing I see go wrong a lot in cover letters: they talk about the candidate’s goals and plans. Companies and managers want to know how you are going to help them be successful. After all, if they didn’t need some help, they wouldn’t be hiring someone.