In addition to a résumé, you'll want to write a cover letter—a brief letter describing why you are applying for a particular job.
Having a cover letter will:
- Set you apart from other applicants who do not take the time to write one
- Describe your strengths better than a résumé alone
- Demonstrate your writing and communication skills, which are important for many jobs
- Write your résumé first (it will include the information that you want to elaborate on in your letter). Address your cover letter to a specific person at the company or organization. Find the right name and title. If you're not sure, contact the business or organization and ask for that information. Make sure it's spelled correctly!
- A short description of why you are applying for the particular job and your specific qualifications
- A short description of your experience, and how present and past jobs have prepared you for the position you are applying for
- Any other information that addresses your fit for the particular job
- Generally, cover letters are around a page long (typed, single-spaced). They follow a particular style that is different from that of a personal letter (ask a Library staff person for books that will show you examples). Be informative and courteous in your writing style, and ask a friend to look for typos or misspellings.
- The H&R Block Business and Career Center computers offers the software WinWay Resumé , which includes hundreds of example cover letters. Please ask one of the librarians in the Block Center for assistance in using WinWay Resumé.
- The database Lynda.com (accessible remotely with a Kansas City Public Library card) offers several brief instructional videos on cover-letter writing. Ask one of the librarians in the Block Center for assistance in using these resources.
- Here are a few other suggestions:
- Write a unique cover letter for each job application.
- Follow the format of a business letter.
- Keep the length to around a page: 12-point font, single-spaced.
- Address your letter directly to the hiring manager, if possible.
- Focus on positive characteristics: Communication skills, planning ability, dependability, honesty, creativity, etc. Provide at least one example demonstrating your possession of these traits.
- Write about the job you're applying for before current or past positions.
- Address all required and preferred qualifications in the job posting.
- Discuss personal or financial problems as justification for employment-focus on the position to which you're applying.
- Send your cover letter as a separate mailing (postal or electronic) from your resume- send it all as one file.
For still more help with cover letters, look over these books available at Kansas City Public Library. Search the Library's catalog under the subject heading "Cover letters."
Knock 'em Dead Cover Letters: Cover Letters and Strategies to Get the Job You Want. 2014. Call number: 650.142 Y31K 2014
Gallery of Best Cover Letters: A Collection of Quality Cover Letters by Professional Resume Writers. 2012. Call number: 650.14 N74G 2012
For additional information, contact an H&R Block Business & Career Center librarian by phone, 816.701.3717, or by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.