What Does A Good Cover Letter Look Like?

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examining a resume

Many candidates find the idea of a cover letter a bit confusing. It’s common to skip it altogether, or to simply iterate the contents of the resume in the cover letter. Neither are helpful. The cover letter provides you with valuable space to share something of your personality and special qualities with a hiring manager and to tell the hiring manager what sets you apart from all the other job candidates—even those who have the same skills you do, or better.

Here’s an example of a useless cover letter:

Dear Hiring Manager;

I am applying for the position of PR agent at your company. You will see from my resume that I previously worked as a PR agent at Company B, where created pamphlets, brochures, and fact sheets. I majored in Communication in college and achieved a GPA of 3.8. A position with your company will allow me to further develop my excellent writing skills and generate public interest in your products, boosting your sales revenue and bottom line.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

John Doe

This is more like the scaffolding of a good cover letter. All of this information should be in a good cover letter, but it should only provide the structure of the letter. You do need to tell the hiring manager what job you’re applying for, briefly mention your background, and point the hiring manager toward your resume for further information. But you also need to add information which can’t be found in your resume. In other words, this should be more than a summary. You need to explain why you’re passionate about the job and would be better than another candidate with similar work experience, education and skills. Try this:

Dear Hiring Manager;

I am applying for the position of PR agent at your company. You will see from my resume that I previously worked as a PR agent at Company B, where I created pamphlets, brochures, and fact sheets. Company B’s work was very important to me; I am passionate about the field of biomedical research, and was devastated when the company went under. Your company conducts similar research on tissue engineering problems, and I’m very impressed with the work you’ve done on developing replacement jaw bones for patients who have been in serious accidents. I feel like with your company, I’d have a chance to start again where I left off, informing the public of the extraordinary medical advancements which your researchers are achieving.

A position with your company would allow me to further develop my skills with PR and simultaneously promote work that I believe in. While you may find other candidates with similar skills, you will find no other candidate with the passion that I have for medical research.

I hope to hear from you soon,

John Doe

Do you see how this cover letter is different? Reading it, you can actually tell something about the human being who wrote it. That person is much more compelling than the one who wrote the first letter, who could be just about anyone, and who might not really care about the company. So be specific, and let a little of who you are shine through in your cover letter. That’s its real purpose.

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