As a feminine woman of excellence, dear reader, you will at some point be required to either write or read a cover letter. It is a very formulaic writing form, and you should be familiar with its main components, format, and structure.
The cover letter is a one-page introduction that demonstrates interest in a particular position or company and lets an employer know who you are and what you have to offer them. It is sent with a resume, and at its basic level, is a request for an interview.
While it is about the writer’s qualifications and interest, it should be tailored to the company or employing agent. At a very minimum, the author should show evidence of having thoroughly reviewed the company website. Lack of research and preparation, dear reader, will be immediately obvious to the experienced manager, and will demonstrate that the potential employee is not fully committed to the cause, or worse, is hasty, cursory, or thoughtless in nature.
Above all, the cover letter must be free of grammar, spelling, or stylistic errors. The letter should never be rushed, and should be edited or proof-read several times.
The cover letter begins with the job-seeker’s address and contact information in the upper right, followed by that of the person to whom she is writing on the left. Next is an appropriate greeting to that person. Generic openings, such as “to whom it may concern,” “dear sir or madam,” or “dear manager” are to be avoided at all costs. It is far better to identify a specific person; this demonstrates sincere interest and how you value and respect others.
The opening paragraph then goes on to explain the applicant’s credentials, who she is, and what type of position she is looking for. She states what position, field, or area she is most interested in, and where and/or from whom she found out about the opening or the company.
As she gets into the body of the letter, she briefly states her qualifications and skills, and begins with what is called a value-proposition statement. A value-proposition statement, dear reader, as it is applied in sales and marketing, is a short statement meant to convince a customer why a product or service will be worth his or her while. In the cover letter, that good or service is the applicant’s skills and talents, and the customer is the employer or hiring manager. It is the applicant’s job to sum up what she brings to the table, so to speak, in a few words, making it clear why she should be hired. In business, this means delineating how she will make her employer more profitable, either by saving or earning them more money.
A value-proposition statement might be something like this: “At Parson’s Consulting, my strong analytical skills, combined with my ability to learn and then apply new skills quickly to solve problems will be valuable assets.”
She wants to be specific, stating what problems she can facilitate or solve, giving any quantitative benchmarks that would give an indication of how well she can solve those issues, and why she is a better choice than other applicants. Vague terms and meaningless or trite jargon such as “excellent team player” are to be avoided; if need be, she can bring up these topics later as she is describing examples and past experiences that support the value proposition statement.
After she explains those examples, the writer then states why she is interested in the particular company, work, or location. She gives convincing and persuasive reasons and then relates any experience she has to the specific position, making a reference to her attached resume.
She concludes the letter by making it clear that she would like an interview, and states how she may be contacted to be informed (generally via email or phone). It is of utmost importance, dear reader, to avoid being “wishy-washy” or vague in the conclusion. The aim is to leave no doubt in the employer’s mind that the applicant is worth at the very minimum, further investigation, if not the position itself.
The letter finally ends with a professional salutation. When in doubt, “sincerely” or “thank you and kind regards” are fail-safe.
Below are some excellent examples of what a cover letter should look like: