Resume writing tips

Resume Cover Letters

Just how important are Resume Cover Letters?

Resume cover letters are extremely important - sometimes even more important than the resume itself as your cover letter can make the difference between being interviewed or not.

You'll find some great tips on how to write a resume cover letter on this page. You will also find some sample resume cover letters (later) that you can modify to suit your own needs.

Useful Tips

  • Always send a resume cover letter, even if one is not requested in the job posting.

    • Just sending a resume can appear a little lazy or even rude,
    • Sending a cover letter gives you a second opportunity to sell yourself, in a different way than is possible in the resume itself. This happens because the writing styles are different - resume cover letters gives you a great chance to show your employer how you can write personal correspondence. This is not possible in the resume itself, the resume is an example of your impersonal, professional writing.

  • Your resume cover letter will always be read in addition to your resume, this gives you two chances to impress the reader.

  • If there is something the employer doesn't understand about your resume, or if you're "borderline" and they're not sure if they should interview you or not your cover letter will be studied - it becomes clear how your cover letter can be the difference between success and failure.

  • Keep it short. Your letter should really be a resume cover page, so one side of paper only.

  • Important: resume cover letters should be customized for each employer. As a bare minimum, put the specific organization name, contact name and job title on the letter.

  • A really good resume cover letter will tailor your letter so it highlights how you and your resume match the job posting requirements. It should also explain any areas where there is no obvious match.

  • Find out who will read your resume and use the person's name. If you don't know the right person's name, because it was not in the job posting, a quick call to the employer's offices will usually get you the name you want. Use "Dear Sir" or "Dear Madam" or "Dear Recruiter" as a last resort.

What Not To Do

  • Don't copy content from your resume. The employer is not stupid and treating them as if they are can be irritating. Repeating chunks of your resume can actually have a negative effect.

  • Don't offer salary information - unless the job posting says it's required. But if it's required, use a range rather than a set figure, or if a salary is given, you can say your salary requirements are within the listed range for the job.

  • Do Not send "Dear Employer" general resume cover letters . If you are not replying to a job posting, but making a speculative application, take the time to call the organization and get a name to whom you can send the resume. Their switchboard or reception can usually help you.

Next Steps:

What is the purpose of the resume cover letter? Depending on the type of letter, the purpose may change slightly, but the overall purpose is to

  1. Introduce yourself for a specific position and

  2. Inform the reader that your resume is enclosed (or attached).

Resume cover letters are selling documents, used to sell you as an employee to a potential hiring manager. However, writing cover letters is very different from writing resumes. While a resume requires the use of cryptic verbiage (such as widely used sentence fragments), writing resume cover letters requires strict adherence to all formal grammatical and business writing rules. A covering letter needs to impart information that is critically important.

What Now?

  • See this page for easy to follow step-by-step instructions to write resume cover letters.

  • See this page for some samples of resume cover letters.