Your resumé and cover letter should not be the end of a job search,
but the beginning. Both of these pieces of paper should be written
(and rewritten, and edited) to get you the interview.
Here’s Your Mission
Your cover letter should answer the following questions. How’d you hear about it? Why are you applying for this
position? What do you know about the company you’re applying to? What resonates with you about the work
that they do? What do you have to offer to that company and that position? Why are you qualiﬁed for this
position? What relevant experiences illustrate that you can do the job? In answering these questions,
you should be as sincere and honest as possible.
Ditch the Cookie Cutter
There is nothing worse for an employer then to read a generic and stale cover letter. It will be totally obvious to
them if you use the same cover letter to apply to every job your putting applications out to. If you really want
the interview, make it personal, make it speciﬁc, and make it count.
Do you want to look super professional? If you answered “yes”, then take a moment to make your cover letter
match your resume. That means copying and pasting the header that you use at the top of your resume to the
top cover letter. Think of it as your own personal letterhead. Use the same font that you do on your resume.
This will make your documents look like they belong together and make you look increasingly legit.
Read. Reread. Rewrite.
Writing is rewriting. You should reread it. Then let people whose writing skills and advice you trust reread it. Take
all their opinions, decide which of the edits work, and rewrite the whole thing. You should reread. Then have your
Uncle Jim reread, maybe some friends, your teachers, then show that one twitchy guy who sits on the bench
outside. Take all their opinions, decide which ones you like and rewrite the whole thing.
Follow the Directions
The surest way to get your application thrown out is to ignore the directions. For example, if the ad says “no
calls please” then don’t call. The same goes for a cover letter. If the employer asks for your salary requirements
or the date you can start then it is your job to include those answers in your cover letter. There are loads of
tactful ways to address such questions.