Each week, TopResume’s career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, answers user questions on Quora like the one below. We’ll be republishing those answers here. A certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals improve their careers for over 10 years. Have a question for Amanda? Submit it here.
Q: What should a cover letter for your resume look like?
Ah, the elusive cover letter! I know this part of the job application process can seem unimportant, but studies have shown that more than 50 percent of employers admit they prefer candidates to send a cover letter with their application, even if one is not required.
However, a cover letter will only help your candidacy if it’s written with a specific job in mind. Cover letters are only beneficial, in my opinion, when you customize them to match the requirements of the position.
I recently responded to a similar question on Quora that breaks down my favorite structure for writing a cover letter.
The most important thing to do when writing a cover letter is to focus on explaining why you’re a good fit for the position and the company.
Too often, job seekers make the mistake of focusing too much on their needs and wants, and too little cover letter space talking about what the hiring manager really cares about — the candidate’s qualifications.
Use your cover letter to deliver your sales pitch to the hiring manager. Review the job description carefully, and check out the latest news on the company. Ask yourself why the company is hiring for this position. In other words, what pain point will this role solve? When you can relate to the hiring manager's concerns and position your skills as the solution to his or her needs, you have a better chance of capturing the reader’s attention and landing an invitation to interview.