Yes, most job seekers will agree that cover letters are a bit of a pain. They are also extremely important; maybe even more so than your resumé.
There's no such thing as a perfect cover letter, but there are some rules you should follow that will make it easier. I learned these as I went along, and they made things a little easier for me. Hopefully they will do the same for you.
- Start Early: Instead of waiting until the last minute to bang out your cover letter, take some time to figure out what you want to say. The purpose of this document is to raise your job application above the competition, so sending something that is hastily written only will serve to undermine your cause.
- Be Unique: Don't simply mimic what you say in your resumé. Choose one of your skills and expand on it, explaining exactly why it makes you a great fit for the job. Above all, make sure your passion for the position shines through your writing.
- Know Your Norms: Most job descriptions will let you know how you should send your cover letter. If that is not the case, get in touch with your networking contacts to determine whether the organization wants candidates to submit applications as an attachment or in the body of the e-mail. This is a lot more important than you think, as it can determine whether your message makes it through the employer's filters.