Cover Letter

Now that you’ve constructed a perfect resume, what can you put in your cover letter? Not much. A cover letter should be very brief.

Many recruitment agencies and employers prefer to have all the information in your resume, but some employers like to see evidence that you can write a sentence, structure a paragraph, and punctuate the whole.

If you’re answering an ad that specified a position title or file reference, put the information in a “Re:” line after the address and before the salutation (Dear Ms. Recruiter).

Your first sentence should tell the reader how you heard about the job and a reference to a published ad, an employee of your target company who referred you, previous contact with the agency and name the job you want. That’s it. Go to paragraph 2.

Take the summary from your resume (don’t use both a summary and a cover letter) and reshape it into complete, succinct sentences appropriate to the job you want. If you didn’t write a summary, create a summarized list of key skills. Keep the points in the same order as they appear in your resume, as much as possible. This shouldn’t be more that three lines (two or three sentences) long. Move on to paragraph 3.

Take the objective from your resume (don’t use both an objective statement and a cover letter) and reedit as full sentences, or create a succinct objective suited to the job description. Again, stay as close to your resume text as good grammar allows, and write no more than two or three lines.

Close politely, but without begging or flourishes. Make sure your name, address, phone numbers, and e-mail address are clearly displayed, either as letterhead, or neatly organized under your signature.

Apply the same critical standards to getting it right that you used for your resume.

EXAMPLE: A Cover Letter


Mr. A. Recruiter
Barrett Rose & Lee Inc.
Management Recruiters
5915 Airport Road, Suite 610,
Mississauga, ON
L4V 1T1

Re: File #12345

Dear Mr. Recruiter:

Please accept my resume in response to your Journal advertisement of May 15, for the position of Vice-president, Finance.

In more than 10 years in senior financial management positions I have demonstrated strong analytical abilities. I am a strategic planner with excellent tactical skills. Foresight has helped me develop strategies to cope with changing global financial markets, and my ability to react quickly has made rapid change profitable. I am also fluent in French and German. I develop talent in the teams I lead, to ensure corporate leadership strength and depth.

I am ready to undertake the financial management of a large (sales over $10B) global manufacturer. My experience is in high-tech communications equipment, with manufacturing and distribution centers in several countries. I am prepared to live anywhere and to travel extensively.

I look forward to discussing this opportunity with you.

Yours sincerely,

Roberta Carol Example

Telephone numbers and E-mail