Many people ask me if a cover letter is needed for an online job application and my answer is always: “Only if you want the job.” 🙂 I won’t put any fancy fonts, pictures, or headers on this post because I want to get to the real deal! I wrote this in a period of 20 minutes– please excuse the ghetto look but the information in this article is well worth reading!
Many resume scanning systems will not even view your online job application unless a cover letter is attached. So if you are completing a job application where the cover letter section is optional, you DEFINITELY want to write one. I would say that 9 out of 10 people will take time out to write a cover letter, which means that if you write one, you have a better shot of getting an interview than one that doesn’t.
What Is the Purpose of a Cover Letter?
A cover letter shows why you are the best person for the position for which you applied and how you can meet the needs of the employer. No one knows you better than YOU!
Writing a cover letter proves that you have researched the company, researched yourself, and understand that you are the best fit for the position. Additionally, writing a cover letter proves that you can write in standard, business letter format. There is no such thing as a generic cover letter for your job search– you need to have a different cover letter for each job or each industry for which you apply.
How the Heck Am I Going to Write a Cover Letter?
Basically, your cover letter needs to meet the needs of the employer. They should be able to immediately see in the cover letter why they should hire you. You need to give them specific examples of why you are the best person for the position (because YOU ARE!). Here are a few tips:
Never address a letter to “To whom it may concern.” Do what you can to research the company and to whom your cover letter should be written. If you do not know the person who the cover letter should go to, simply make a subject line with a.) title of the job; b.) the job ID number (if there is one); and c.) the department or name of the facility of the job: Here’s an example:
RE: Medical Ultrasound Technology Nurse – Job ID# 1235 – Abrazo/New York Heart Hospital
1. Standard Business Letter Format – You should have your contact information at the top, similar to the way your resume has contact information as a header. The company’s information needs to be at the top too: you should have information about their complete address.
2. In your introduction, prove that you have researched the company by mentioning a recent news article about the clinic, or something special about the doctor or specialty. Knowing about the company is crucial and having a cover letter that is specific to the needs of the employer stands out! If you do not know much about the company (maybe you found the position on Craigslist and there is not detailed information) You may simply state something such as “I meet the qualifications you seek in a/an ______________.,” simply stating that you meet the qualifications for the specific position that they have posted.
3. Your body paragraph may have a list of bullet points regarding how to meet the qualifications of the job posting. Use the same bullet points that you had in your resume– make it as easy as possible for the employer to read. The letter does not need to have the bullet points but consider separating the reasons why the company should hire you.
4. In your closing statement, thank them for their consideration for the position and list how you may be contacted (I will make another post on how a cover letter should look if you are applying to an unposted position– the closing for these kinds of letters are different).
5. Do not forget to “Spell Check” your cover letter. If you are using acronyms that may be unfamiliar to an office manager or human resources, please spell them out completely. Use ‘temporary” instead of ‘temp,” “OB/GYN” instead of “obgyn.”
Be sure to take a look at the sample cover letter below! This cover letter was written by a Pharmacy Technician who wanted a position with a large, national pharmacy. She received four simultaneous offers by using this cover letter.
123 Sesame St.
New York, NY 10029
321 Contact Ln.
New York, NY 10021
March 28, 2012
RE: Pharmacy Technician – Job ID# 1235
I would like to congratulate Pharmacare on their possible merger with MedicalRx! This will definitely bring about more business and help more patients live a healthier life. After 20 years in sales management, I am now focusing on my newest desire: working as a Pharmacy Technician and maintaining the great reputation that Pharmacare currently holds in the Pharmaceutical field. Here is a synopsis of my credentials:
- Certified Pharmacy Technician – I have passed the PTCB Exam and am licensed by the New York State Board of Pharmacy as a Certified Pharmacy Technician.
- Experience In Pharmaceutical Field – I have recently graduated from a Pharmacy Technician program where I achieved a 4.0 GPA, received the President’s Award for Academic Achievement and was recognized for 100% attendance. I also completed a 180-hour externship program with the Women’s International Pharmacy in their pet health division.
- Call Center Experience – I have over 10 years of telephonic skills on a multi-lined telephone, taking over 80 calls a day.
- Time Management, Analytical, and Customer Service Skills – I was noted at my Pharmacy Technician Externship as being a self-starter and completed all assigned tasks with minimal supervision.
I really feel that I would be at home at Pharmacare— not only am I familiar with the pharmacy environment but I am well aware of the business and quality aspect of the position. I would also bring my experience from sales and personal professionalism to the company! I would appreciate an opportunity to meet with you in person to discuss this position with you further. I can be reached by telephone at (917) 858-1234 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special tip for creating your draft:
Make your drafts on hard copy paper first! When writing your draft, start off with the reasons why you are best for the position. Do your introduction and your closing last.
Best wishes to you all!!!