Tips for Writing an Effective Cover Letter

There have recently been a plethora of conversations surrounding the importance of including a cover letter with a resume.  Bryant & Stratton College spoke with many industry professionals and found that there are companies, such as Microsoft, who will completely discard an applicant’s cover letter. However, there are many companies and hiring professionals strongly base their hiring decisions on an applicant’s cover letter.
The moral of the story is that it is always a great idea to include a cover letter when you are submitting a resume. A proper cover letter can serve as a selling point to a hiring manager when they are combing through a pile of applications. Setting yourself apart from the competition can be your saving grace in the current job market that is suffering from the growing skills gap issue – allowing you to make a great impression on a potential employer before you even walk in the door. I wanted to share two key elements that you should employ when designing your cover letter.
Follow the Three Paragraph Rule
This is something many of us see when researching how to design a cover letter. While the “three paragraph rule” may be redundant, it can significantly improve the way your cover letter is viewed. The three paragraph format allows you to express your interest in the company in a concise setup - without being overly long-winded. So what is the three paragraph rule? Brian Penny put together a brilliant “three paragraph rule” explanation in an article he wrote for Lifehack, stating:
Your first paragraph should introduce yourself. State your name. Make sure this paragraph is straight and to the point or the reader will lose interest.  Don’t just list that you have experience in management. Tell them that you manage top teams and get results. Be specific about the results and gear them toward the company. It’s great that you always exceeded your production goals. What did that accomplish? More money for the company? Better quality products? This is your chance to say something great about yourself. Don’t hold back. 
Your second paragraph should be five sentences about your career goals and why you want to work for the company. The only 2 things you need to adjust to personalize your cover letter for the position are the header “Dear Mr/Mrs/Dr _____” and the 2nd paragraph. Look up a couple facts about the company and find ways to align your goals with the goals of the company. If you’re applying for a marketing company and you’ve won sales awards, let them know both. It may sound like you’re telling them something they already know, but in doing so, you’re showing them that you did your research. This paragraph is vital in showing the company that you’re not just some desperate job seeker spamming every company you can find. It shows you put in your due diligence and selected them. Your third paragraph should list you and the company as a team.
End the letter by saying that you look forward to learning more about the company (keep It generic so you don’t have to change it each time). You’re excited to work together. Focus on how all of your past accomplishments and future goals are in line with the company’s. Use “we” statements to give the sense that you already feel like you’re working with them. You’re more likely to get a response from a someone who sees you as a comrade, brother in arms, etc.”
Do Not Reuse Your Cover Letter
This is a mistake that occurs within the job search world all too often.  As applicants lazily recycle their cover letters, employers are bogged down in a sea of generic, old cover letters and resumes. While this is unfortunate for the employers in this scenario, it can give a diligent applicant an enormous leg up in the competition. It is important to rewrite your cover letter, catering the each company you are applying to. This makes for a much more personal experience for both the interviewer and the interviewee.
Whether you are seeking long-time employment opportunities, a summer job between semesters, or diving into the world of freelancing, a well-crafted cover letter should always be implemented when diving into the job-seeker’s world.  Just because a company is looking for an applicant with a skillset that matches yours, doesn’t mean they are going to hire you. It is vital to give them a reason to look at your resume.  
Taylor Tomita is a creative writer residing in Boise, Idaho. Focusing on various angles of education and business, Taylor has been able to help many individuals overcome concerns within these fields.