Whereas a resume gives an employer only the basic information, a cover letter is your first opportunity to give a detailed explanation of why you would be a good fit for the job. Neglecting to include one or putting minimal effort into its writing will likely leave you in an employer's rejection pile.
What are the best ways to go about crafting an application cover letter? Here are four dos (and don'ts) that will help you get started:
- DO personalize your letter. This means including the name of the hiring manager and including information relevant to the job for which you are applying. You wouldn't like it if you received a message that read as if it were copied and pasted, and the employer will not like that either.
- DO specifically address the advertised job. Show the organization that you paid close attention to their job description by detailing how your skills fit the requirements of the position. For example, if the nonprofit is hiring a development director, include anecdotes that detail your fundraising experience.
- DON'T take too long to get to the point. Hiring managers receive countless applications every day and likely don't have the time to read a wordy cover letter. You should directly mention the job you are applying for in the first paragraph and the letter itself should be no more than three paragraphs.
- DON'T end on a passive note. Instead of ending your letter with a statement like "I look forward to your response," write something along the lines of "I will contact you in a few days to speak further about my credentials."