It's important to keep in mind when writing cover letters that the purpose of a cover letter is to entice the reader to look at your resume. Not to tell your life story or career history!
You want to demonstrate both enthusiasm and professionalism, as well as illustrate that you understand the position and have done your research about the company. The cover letter must target the employer and include an attention-grabbing first opening sentence.
You cover letter must concisely explain:
- The reason for your application
- What skills and experience you have that match what the employer is looking for
- Why you want to work for this company
- What you can do for the employer, not on what you want from the experience
- Your next follow-up steps will be or a thank you for accepting your resume
Cover Letter How-To
PARAGRAPH 1: WHY
Why are you writing this letter? State the position title and job posting number you are applying for and how you know of this company or the posting. Try to include an attention-grabbing statement that grabs the reader’s attention.
PARAGRAPH 2: WHAT
What do you have to offer this particular employer? Focus on your most relevant skills and experience, and how they will contribute to the success of the position and the company. Use evidence from past achievements to back up your skills. You want to communicate that you are the perfect fit.
PARAGRAPH 3: HOW
Demonstrate you have done your research and be specific as to how your skills and experience will contribute to the company's mandate or projects, and how you will fit with their company culture.
PARAGRAPH 4: THANK YOU
Take a moment to express appreciation that they have read your application and to demonstrate your enthusiasm about the position. If it is possible for you to follow-up, be explicit how you will you contact them or invite them to reach you out to you.
Properly developed and targeted to each job opportunity, your resume is a powerful marketing tool. Although HR professionals may have different opinions on resumes, there are some key tips that we recommend to ensure you are getting the most out of your resume.
General Resume Tips:
- Make your resume easy to read with a professional font (equivalent to Calibre 11 font)
- Be concise: generally no more than 2 pages in length and use point form instead of paragraphs
- Ensure consistency in your documents by using the same font and page header throughout your cover letter, resume and reference pages
- Be very specific when drawing on all areas of your life to concisely demonstrate how you are qualified for the position
- Always focus on what you will bring to the company and not what you want from the company
- Target your approach - do your research and keep your experience and skills relevant to the company and the position
- Use your professional, volunteer and personal experiences to target your skills for each company and the job posting
- Ask someone you trust to review your resume solely for grammar and spelling errors – we all make mistakes!
Tips for International Job Seekers
International students should remember that resumes in Canada should:
- Not include any personal information such as date of birth, marital status or a headshot a photo
- Prominently display all previous international education, professional history and volunteer experience
- Include all language skills
- Include your current part-time employment with one – two bullet points explaining any relevant duties and accomplishments
Submitting Your Resume Electronically
Did you know that following the instructions to submit your resume electronically is considered part of the interview process? If emailing your resume:
- Save your cover letter and resume in one document versus two separate documents
- Name the document using your full name as opposed to just the word "resume" (ie. SueSmith_PositionReference6524.doc or SueSmith_SupplyCoordinator.doc)
- Submit your resume in the file format as requested in the job posting, usually Word or pdf
- When appropriate, send as a pdf to ensure it looks the same way you intend it to when it is received by the employer, unless the employer explicitly states another file type
- Use the body of the email as a very simple, 2 – 4 sentence introduction and to reference the job posting