I’m beginning to think that there really should be an entire course during college entitled “How to Write a Cover Letter (and Other Things You Should Know When Applying for Jobs).” Since beginning my job search, I have revamped my resume and cover letter several times, until I was finally sufficiently happy with the design layout of each of the pieces. Also, of course, my cover letter changes slightly for each company that I send it to, but I don’t exactly have time to change it every time when I’m applying to, oh, you know, at least 4 or 5 jobs a day, plus you’re basically saying the same thing to everyone. Either way, I’m hoping to get some insight from real people, rather than just google, sometimes he gives me conflicting answers and I don’t know what to think!
The greeting: The first problem with writing cover letters is figuring out who the heck to address it to to begin with. Some articles state that if you can’t find a name, put “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager,” at the same time, I’ve found some articles that say do not do that, do whatever you can to find a specific person to address the letter to; using one of the former makes your letter seem impersonal and/or uncaring. Others even recommend skipping the whole thing and jumping right into your letter. Many times, though, on companies’ websites, in order to apply for a job you have to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or via an email form. If staff members are named somewhere on the website, it is sometimes difficult to find anyone beyond the President/CEO/Manager of Something or Another, or other high-ranking employees. Certainly the president of this large company is probably not very likely to actually be the one who is opening these job application emails, but do you address it to them anyway?
The letter itself: When writing the body of the letter, many say that you should completely customize each time, but what exactly are you supposed to write? You don’t want to write to a company inquiring about a job and end up spending at least an entire paragraph noting the great job they did with last year’s campaign on whatever and how impressed you are that they won whatever award – they already know these things. I mean, if you’re applying to the company, you (probably) do think that they would be a great place to work, but isn’t the point of the cover letter to make yourself seem great?? Especially when cover letters are only supposed to be one page long, you need all the room you can get to brag about all of your accomplishments during your life, right? (hardy har)
The closing: Finally, you’ve managed to make it down to your last paragraph. Most of the articles that I’ve found advise you to, once again, throw around your accomplishments, why you are the absolute best candidate for this position and to wrap it all up. But, should you close the letter by stating something along the lines of “I look forward to hearing from you”? Or should you tell the employer that you will be contacting them in several days? To me, the latter seems kind of silly; helll-loo they know that you want the job; you clearly spent days writing your cover letter, documenting every single one of your accomplishments dating back to the sixth grade when you were voted class president, if they are interested in you as their employee, wouldn’t it make more sense that they would contact you? I know that employers are definitely busy, and don’t have time to respond to every single email that they get – so I know that it is important to follow up and make sure your resume was received and to keep your name fresh in their heads. But still.
Email: Okay, one more thing, when you are supposed to email your cover letter and resume to a company – should the cover letter be the body of the email or an attachment? If you merely copy/paste your cover letter from Microsoft Word into the body of an email, it won’t include the same snazzy formatting as your cover letter.
Oh, the dilemmas. Any ideas??
Below are just a few of the cover letter resources that I have found simply by using google searches: