A resume is a summary of your past history. A cover letter declares your hope for the future. Your cover letter is read before the recipient even looks at your resume.
The objective of a cover letter is to get an interview, not a job. Receiving an offer comes later in the job hunting process. A persuasive cover letter is more likely to result in an interview than a resume that looks like hundreds of others.
Your cover letter is your main shot at getting your foot in the door. Take your time with it. Ask someone you respect to read it. It will be ditched immediately by the reader recipient if your tone of voice is wrong, meaning you seem to be bragging; desperate; groveling; inappropriately affectionate (I’m longing to hear from you etc.) or written on “girlie” paper decorated with flowers or puppies.
Read your first draft aloud. If you can’t find anything wrong with it or anything you want to change, you aren’t trying hard enough.
“To Whom It May Concern”
This is the wording to use if you are appealing a traffic ticket. If you are applying for a job from an identified company, make a telephone call to find the name and correct spelling of the Director of Human Resources. Make sure you spell the name correctly. If you are responding to a post box number, address your letter to the Executive Chef. Or ask yourself what would Perry Mason and his private investigator, Paul Drake do to track down the person of interest?
Keep your letter short: no more than three paragraphs nicely placed in the center of the page. Tailor each letter for each job you are seeking. One size or one format doesn’t fit all.
Don’t say you think it would be interesting for you to work for the organization to which you are applying. This is like parking in front of prosperous looking home and asking if the owner will pay you to move in, entertain and educate you and provide you with paid vacations and medical benefits. Instead offer what you will do to advance the profitability of the employer.
State precisely what you want: I want to be the assistant pastry chef. Proclaim your virtues. For instance, “I always show up on time. I follow directions. I am a team player. I can cook!”
A cover letter should not be a short version of your resume. Search for any connection you have to the company and suggest ways you believe you will be able to contribute your unique talents to it. Try to be as charming as if you are meeting your future in-laws for the first time.
Sample Cover Letter
A cover letter should be presented on letterhead paper and include your e-mail address and cell phone number and go along the lines of:
Date: February 14, 2020
Dear Chef Wiffenpoof:
Charlie Huff’n’Puff, a fellow student from The Arts Institute professional culinary school told me you were looking for a skilled dishwasher for your country club in North Dakota.
I have recently married my football coach who grew up in Crossed Forks. We attended the Claude Pepper High School. We have bought a house a 5-minute walk from the club and will be moving there next week. I honed my skills as an extern dishwasher when working at the Danish Laundry.
I have attached three references with my resume.
[End the letter by keeping the power in your hands. Don’t say “thank you for your time, I am looking forward to hearing from you.” Instead say I will call you on Friday 13th at 3 P M. If the contact person is not there, leave a message. If you do this three times, and there is still no answer, Wise up! The answer is “No Thanx.”]
Eager Beaver, Proud Food Jobs book reader
Don’t scrawl a gigantic or dopey signature at the bottom of the page.