Cover Letters

Is a cover letter really necessary?

A cover letter is a chance to tell the employer, in narrative form, why they should hire you over another candidate.  It is important to include a cover letter even if it is not required. A cover letter should not simply be a summary of the information that is on your resume, but an original document that allows you use your own voice to express how your skills and experience match with what the employer is seeking.  Including a cover letter will set you apart from those who only submit a resume. A cover letter is also your chance to demonstrate your writing and communication skills.

Cover Letter Format

[Name of Contact Person] [Title of Contact Person] [Company Name] [Company Address]

Dear [Contact Name / Sir / Madam],
Opening paragraph: Hook the employer with something that catches his/her attention (for example: who referred you or their need for your special skills).  Name the job you want (use a specific job title).
Body paragraph:  This is your sales pitch.  Match your qualifications to the specific job opening.  Use the language in the job advertisement if possible (for example: “ You are looking for a student who has experience with Excel and Access.  I worked for one year as a student assistant in the National Center on Deafness at California State University, Northridge.  While I was there, I created an Excel database for the Interpreter Training Program and later converted it to Access.”).  BE CONFIDENT and SPELL CHECK your letter.
Second Body paragraph: Talk about the company.  What do you know about them?  Why are you interested in working for that particular company versus another one?  Explain why you think you are a good fit with their company and culture.
Closing paragraph:  Mention your resume is enclosed.  Thank the reader for their time and consideration.
Sincerely,[Signature] [Your name]

Example Cover Letter

January 15, 2013
Emily Carter
Executive Producer
ABC Media
1 Industry Plaza
Atlanta GA 30319

Dear Ms. Carter:
Tenacious and driven are terms my colleagues have used to describe my work habits.   It is with a strong sense of career commitment that I submit my resume for your review.
Having completed classes in May 2013, I will be granted a B.A. in Communications from Oglethorpe University.   Sometimes while holding two jobs while attending school, and completing an internship for academic credit, I will have completed my degree in 3 years.  It is with the same passion, integrity, and energy that I intend to pursue my career in Broadcast Media.
Like so many, I possess the talent and understanding of how demanding a career in media can be.  But unlike most, I am willing to ‘pay the price’ of hard work, rough work schedules, and total availability that the industry requires.  While interning at Q100 in Atlanta, I worked at least 15 hours a week in addition to a full course load of classes.  Both my high GPA and exemplary work performance during this time speak to my dedication and strong work ethic.
Thanks so much for your consideration.  I am eager to learn more about the challenges facing your organization and to discuss how I can make a difference.
Jamie Petrel