For some strange reason there is a great deal written about how to craft the perfect resume, but much less attention is focused on the cover letter. The fact is that quite often it is the cover letter that the convinces the reader to even bother looking at your resume. It can certainly be the difference between a cursory glance and someone actually reading it and considering you for an interview.
The worst part is that people quite often make the biggest mistake in cover letter writing almost immediately. They make this mistake by addressing the letter to a “hiring manager”, or worse, “to whom it may concern.” Trust me, if you start your letter like this, it doesn’t concern them. No one likes to be thought of as a non-entity, and that is what you are doing when you address the letter to whomever happens to open the envelope.
Take the time and effort to find out the name of the person that is doing the actual hiring. Call the company and ask the secretary if you need to do so. Then address the letter to that person directly.
The body of the cover letter follows, and generally there need to be three short paragraphs. In the first one, briefly discuss why you are writing, what job you are applying for and mention where you learned about the job. If you have a mutual contact person, mention it here.
Move on to the second paragraph and briefly mention your skills, what you offer the company. Discuss how the skills listed in your resume translate into the job you are seeking. In the third paragraph, thank them for their consideration and let the person know how you will follow up within the next week. Be sure to actually follow up.
If the cover letter is mailed, then it needs a handwritten signature. If it is emailed, then a typed signature is fine. Be polite, be concise and be brief.