What Should My Cover Letter Include?

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In your cover letter, include information that truly tailors the application to a particular employer and specific job opening.  Complement and reinforce the qualifications presented in your resume, using words and phrases from the employer’s job listing and/or website.

Here are some points about content you’ll want to keep in mind as you write your cover letter:

  • How you learned of the job or company is important to recruiters and hiring managers, especially if there is a mutual connection that can speak of your qualifications.
  • Demonstrate a good fit with the employer’s corporate or organization culture.  Be sure to back up any assertions of personal characteristics by describing the resulting achievement either on your resume or in your cover letter.  Ideally, the cover letter refers to information found on your resume without being repetitive or redundant.
  •  Go beyond the resume in explaining your situation and career direction.  For example: “My career goals include gaining leadership experience in the delivery of financial advising services in a private business setting.  I am open to relocation for the appropriate opportunity.”
  • Avoid discussing weakness or making excuses; instead, concentrate on what you have to offer.  The cover letter is not the place to confess your mistakes or problems.  For example, if you’ve been laid off, don’t mention that fact.  Instead, discuss what you have done recently to be productive or better prepared for this job (e.g. I have recently completed training in….or I have gained valuable marketing experience volunteering with….).
  • If salary requirements are requested in a job posting, discuss them in your cover letter.  It’s best not to trap yourself by naming a specific amount.  Instead, say something like “my salary requirements are in step with the responsibilities of the position and the expertise I would offer your company.”  If an ad or job posting absolutely requires a salary figure, state a range, such as “seeking a compensation package to include benefits and a salary in the low-to mid-$30s.”

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