Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Basic Cover Letter Template

In an earlier post I gave the Do’s and Don’ts of the cover letter, but I didn’t cover one of my biggest pet peeves about cover letters; the template. Regularly when I have advertised an open position I get a deluge of resumes. Some have cover letters, some don’t. If they have a cover I read it. For most people that cover letter helps them, but for some that cover letter guarantees they get moved to the no pile.

So what is the best way to have your cover letter get you moved to the no pile? A cookie cutter template that has canned lines that I have read so many times I can quote the lines myself. Sometimes in one pile I will get three or four cover letters that are almost exactly the same with just some minor differences that I assume are where the candidate was left to fill in the blanks.

You don’t have to let this happen to you. Ditch the books, the on-line templates that you just fill in the blanks and try out this format.

First a few basics, keep your cover to three to five paragraphs with three to five sentences in the body. Use an intro with one to two sentences and then use a closing that is also one to two sentences. As a general rule you want your cover letter to take between thirty seconds and one minute to read.

The Template

I am submitting my resume for the [XTZ] position that [I saw in XYZ paper].
[I saw on XYZ website].
[I heard about from NAME].
I am very interested in working for [XYZ Company] because [fact you researched about company].

Paragraph 1:
In this paragraph you highlight the experience you have from previous positions that qualify you for the position you are applying for.

Paragraph 2:
Specific accomplishments you have had at other companies or skill sets that will make you an asset to the company your are applying with.

Paragraph 3:
Highlight what you are looking for in a career and company and how this company fits that.

I am available immediately for interviews and can be reached at the contact numbers listed on my resume. Thank you for taking a look at my resume and I look forward to talking with you soon.

Now of course you can customize so that the wording fits you and your writing style, but this is a basic format that can give you a solid cover letter. You will need to do some research on the company, however this will give you another chance to highlight that you are more dedicated than most other applicants. If you don’t know name of the company or can’t find any information, the focus on the position instead.Do remember that since the goal is an in person interview, you do want to sound like yourself in your cover letter.