Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions
Along with a resume, a cover letter is one of the classic elements of submitting a job application. A cover letter is a one-page document providing further information about the work experience and skills outlined in a candidate's resume. It’s also where applicants can detail their specific qualifications and state why they want to work for your organization.
Besides fleshing out resume facts, the purpose of writing a cover letter is for a job applicant to introduce themselves in a personal and memorable way and paint a picture of how or why they would be a valuable asset to your organization. An effective cover letter demonstrates why a candidate would be the right hire for the role and should include the following:
Candidates applying for internships will often have less concrete work experience as they are usually students, recent graduates, or someone looking to change direction in their career. In this case, when writing a cover letter for an internship, candidates should outline their relevant coursework or focus on providing details of their skills or expertise that match the required criteria. Internship candidates should also explain what they hope to learn and achieve from the opportunity in their cover letter.
Some of what should be left off a cover letter might be obvious, but here is a quick checklist to run through.
Cover letters typically follow an established structure consisting of the candidate’s contact information, a salutation, the body, closing with a call to action, and a signature. The entire document should only be one page.
At the top of the page should be the candidate’s name, email address, and phone number. Many candidates also include a link to their profiles on professional social networking sites like LinkedIn. The candidate’s information should be followed by the employer's contact details, if applicable. This is followed, flush right, by the date the cover letter is created. Finally, in the subject line, the name of the job being applied to is stated. Otherwise, it should be mentioned in the first sentence, right after the salutation.
The body of the cover letter should begin with an appropriate salutation and be addressed to the recruiting or hiring manager if named in the job description. Generally, the body will comprise two to three short, concise paragraphs before transitioning to a closing that includes a call to action, such as suggesting a meeting or phone call. Candidates should end their cover letter with a formal closing and their signature.
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