Each week, TopResume’s career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, answers user questions on Quora like the one below. We’ll be republishing those answers here. A certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals improve their careers for over 10 years. Have a question for Amanda? Submit it here.
Q: How can I write a cover letter for a resume?
Similar to writing a resume, when you’re drafting a cover letter, it’s important to tailor the information you include based upon the specific job you’re applying for. While you’ll likely make small tweaks to your resume to ensure it speaks to the core requirements and keywords found in the job description, your cover letter may require more editing.
I like to break up my cover letters into three main sections:
Cover Letter Section 1: Introduction
Introduce yourself and explain why you’re interested in the role and the company. This is your chance to demonstrate you’ve done your homework and know something about the company or industry.
If you’re confident in your writing skills and are feeling creative, you can swap out the standard introductory paragraph I mentioned above and replace it with an anecdote from your work history that illustrates the most important – and relevant – skills you possess that are required for the job at hand. My buddy Danny H. Rubin describes this method here. It’s definitely a great way to hook the reader into wanting to read your entire cover letter.
Cover Letter Section 2: Qualifications
Illustrate how you are qualified to do this job. Spell out how your experience, education, and abilities meet the position’s core requirements. This is arguably the most important section, as it clearly explains to the reader why your application is worth a read. I like to identify three or four core must-have requirements from the job description, list each in its own bullet within the cover letter, and then explain how I meet that requirement.
Cover Letter Section 3: Call-to-Action
Close the note, indicating your enthusiasm and creating a “call to action.” Rather than merely asking for the hiring manager or recruiter to review your resume, let them know when you will follow up with them about your application. This keeps the ball in your court and gives you a legitimate reason to follow up (you just told them you would do so).
Whenever possible, address your cover letter to a specific person, such as the hiring manager or the recruiter in charge of filling the position. Personalization, based on what you’ve learned about the company and in the job description, is key to getting your cover letter read. Avoid using a generic template where you simply replace one company name for another.
Click on the following link for more cover letter advice.
- 10 of the Worst Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid
- Ask Amanda: What's the Difference Between a Resume Objective and Summary?
- 5 Things to Always Include in Every Cover Letter