Cover letters should be less than a page in length -- usually 3 or 4 paragraphs, with each paragraph containing 5-6 sentences.
The cover letter should be customized to each company/position and should reflect any special skills or knowledge you possess related to the job. Employers can detect generic cover letters and will not be impressed. You must research the company and position description to write a strong cover letter.
The first paragraph should explain your intent—mention the specific job you are applying for, how you learned about the job and, as a nice touch, mention something specific about the company to show that you have done some amount of research on the company/office to which you are applying. Company mission statements typically offer useful information to serve this purpose.
The second paragraph should highlight your education and your “soft skills”—what is it about you, as a person, that makes you a good potential hire? You can discuss interpersonal, organizational or other work skills, but be specific about the skills and how you do/might use them.
The third paragraph speaks to your “hard skills” and your previous work experience. How will your new (potential) employer benefit from your past employment? Be specific!
The fourth paragraph is the wrap up. This is where you reference your enclosed resume, offer to provide additional information and ask for an interview. Keep in mind that employers often receive a hundred or more resumes for the same job and will seldom be able to respond as quickly as you’d like. If you do not hear anything within a couple of weeks, you may call the recruiter or HR representative to whom your materials were sent to ensure receipt and to inquire about the time frame of the search process.
Address the letter to a specific person. HR directors can usually be identified through company web pages, CareerBeam, LinkedIn or other internet sources. If all else fails, call the company or organization to obtain a name.
Type each letter individually on good quality paper. This paper should be the same as that which you used for your resume.
Don’t forget to include a date.
Proofread, proofread, proofread. Cover letters and resumes can have NO errors. Seventy-six percent of surveyed Human Resource Managers said they would not hire a person with a mistake in their cover letter. Don’t support that statistic.