It is expected that you will send a cover letter along with your resume when you apply for jobs. But what should you say in your cover letter to grab the attention of the reader? Do recruiters even read cover letters these days?
Cover letters are still important even though not all recruiters will read them. According to Quintessential Careers, most recruiters are not interested in cover letters, but hiring managers are. So it is worth your while to write a cover letter that represents you well.
Here is a simple formula for writing an effective cover letter:
Introduction—Tell the reader how you heard about the position. You might start off by saying, “I am responding to your advertisement on CareerBuilder.com for a Vice President of Human Resources.” If there is a vacancy announcement number that was included in the ad, be sure to mention it in the introduction. Large companies usually have several vacancies that they are trying to fill simultaneously, so including the vacancy announcement number is helpful to the human resources department.
Body—The body of the cover letter can be one or two paragraphs in length. This is the most important part of the cover letter. In the body you need to address the needs of the employer by talking about how your background matches the requirements of the position. Here is a sample vacancy announcement as well as a sample paragraph taken from the body of a cover letter to illustrate how you can make that match between what you have to offer and what the job requires.
Pepsi is seeking a vice president of human resources to run multi-state operations in the Northeast region. The candidate must have experience in training and development as well as a history of improving employee performance levels and employee satisfaction.
A Bachelor’s degree is required, and a Master’s degree and certification in human resources are preferred. No relocation is available.
Sample Paragraph from Body of Cover Letter
As you will see from my resume, I have extensive experience in the field of human resources at the executive level. I have experience working in an organization with multi-state operations, and I have successfully managed the functions of human resources as well as training and development. In my position as vice president of human resources at Lowe’s I was instrumental in maintaining employee satisfaction scores above 90% on annual surveys and increasing employee performance levels by 20% over a one-year period.
It is a good idea to mention any accomplishments that relate to the specific requirements of the job. This makes your candidacy for the position more credible, and it will catch the eye of the reader. Employers are interested in results that you have achieved for past employers because it is a good indicator of what you will do for your next company.
Closing—The closing is pretty straightforward. You can close by thanking the reader for his or her time and interest. Here is an example: “I look forward to discussing my qualifications in person. Thank you for your time and consideration.”