Including a resume cover letter is not only a recommendation, it’s essential. Make sure to review these 8 “must-haves” before sending off your resume and cover letter to your future employer.
1. Keep the same design as your resume.
Consistency is key in order to present a professional resume and cover letter. If you have your name and contact information at the top of your resume, keep with the same design for your cover letter as well. This also goes for font style AND size. If you are physically printing and sending your resume, use the same high quality paper for both. The resume cover letter is the first impression many hiring managers have; the last thing you want to communicate is that you spent time and effort on the resume but the cover letter was an afterthought.
For more help on how to choose an appropriate resume design, check out our other helpful articles today!
2. Address the letter appropriately.
Follow grammar rules for addressing the letter as a business letter. Make sure to include the date, individual’s name and title, and company name and address. Either start the letter by using “To Whom It May Concern:” or “Dear (Individual’s Name):”. Don’t forget to use a colon rather than a comma.
3. Make sure your letter shows what you will BRING to the company rather than what you WANT from them.
One of the most common mistakes candidates make is to use the resume cover letter as a list of what they are looking for in a future job or career. Employers do NOT want to hear about what you want but rather what you are going to bring to their company if they choose to hire you. Make sure to include your qualifications and accomplishments in a way that show future employers how you would likely bring a unique expertise or similar results to their company. However, be careful not to sound too overly confident or arrogant.
4. Share professional qualities that set you apart from other candidates.
Go beyond your professional experience and qualifications by including some of your individual qualities that make you shine. These can be professional traits such as organizational, leadership, or communication skills. While you want to show the reader a little of your personality and individual qualities on a professional resume cover letter, avoid including nonprofessional interests or associations such as hobbies or religious affiliations.
5. Briefly explain any special circumstances such as a career change or gap in employment.
If you have unique situations on your resume that will be noticeable by hiring manager, don’t try to avoid them or ignore them. Simply address them quickly and offer a short explanation. Normally, a gap in employment should only be addressed if it extends longer than a few months. There is no need to explain every little blip in your professional experience, just address the longer breaks. And while you want to address these special circumstances, don’t dwell on them but offer an explanation and move on.
Special circumstances can be tricky for people navigate on a resume. We highly recommend enlisting the help of a professional resume writer to make sure you present your information in the best way possible.
6. Answer specific questions if asked such as salary, relocation, and travel preferences.
If the job posting that you are applying for asks for specific information, make sure to include it in your resume cover letter. Not including what the employers is asking for will likely work against you.
7. Prompt the reader to respond.
End your letter by asking for an interview, phone call, or other response. Either ask for the hiring manager to contact you or suggest that you will follow up with a phone call at a later date. However, if you say you are going to follow up with a phone call, make sure to do it! Nothing speaks louder to disorganization than not following through with something that you’ve said.
8. Include your contact information!
Lastly, make sure your contact information is listed on your resume cover letter and that it is easy to read. Avoid listing numerous contact numbers, it’s not necessary and will only overwhelm the reader. List one reliable phone number and an email address at the very least.