If you have sent your resume in to apply for a job without writing a cover letter, the chances are that your details are just one in a pile of several or even even several hundred. Your resume may be one of the best in the whole stack, but chances are, if you do not have a good cover letter to accompany it, your resumes will not even be seen.
In today's fast-paced world, you need every edge you can get. Probably the first thing the employer will do is sift through all of the resumes (that is, view the cover letters) and get rid of the ones that look like run-of-the-mill work. This is your opportunity to grab their attention and make them notice you right off the bat.
There are two basic ways for writing a cover letter – paragraph form and executive outline form. Paragraph form is the more traditional and probably the most common type of cover letter used. Executive outline style, which offers the use of bullets, generally works for a shorter piece of content. Paragraph form is probably the neater of the two approaches, but also could have been viewed as too long in some cases. So the type you choose may indeed depend on your situation for the job application at hand.
Since, paragraph layout is the more common, let's first review that one in a little more detail. Basically, you start a paragraph layout cover letter the same way you would if you were starting a letter you were writing to a person or place of business. You'll want to have the date and greeting at the top and generally three or four paragraphs, written in block formatting.
Your first paragraph should tell of your job experience, education, skills that pertain to the job you are applying for, and any other points that you think would make you stand out from the crowd of other applicants.
The second paragraph generally should show your desire to become a member of the company for which you are applying. Then tell them HOW you will benefit the company if you are selected for the position. View it as a sales letter. You have to sell yourself to the company, and make them WANT to buy you!
The next paragraph is usually where you will live a little further into the facts of your knowledge and qualifications for the job. You can expound on anything you mentioned in the introductory paragraph, as well as mention anything noteworthy that you did not bring up at first, that could be helpful in enhancing your professional image.
The final paragraph will state the fact that there is a copy of our resume attached. Here you might also want to show your desire to meet with the hiring manager to relay some of your ideas. Repeat your contact information here, along with the days and times you are available to be contacted. Finally, you should always end your letter with a signature.
The other cover letter type is the executive outline type. Similar to the paragraph style, you will also start this one with the current date, addresses, greeting, etc. Next, state the position you are applying for. Next, come up with a very brief paragraph that focuses on your basic qualifications for the job being applied for, your work history, and an emphasis on being able to help the organization. To back this information up, include 2 to 4 bulleted paragraphs, which highlight your important features that best match the job opportunity. Then similar to the paragraph style, close it out by 'selling yourself' to the company, giving them your contact information again, and thanking the reader for their time.
Once you have written one of each type, you will have a solid template from which to work. No matter the type of job you are applying for, just pull up the appropriate template and look over it. Be sure that your contact information is correct, and change any details that might need to be tailor to the particular job you are applying for, and GO GET THAT JOB! Remember … Writing a cover letter is essential!