Dread writing the cover letter? Follow this easy formula every time
For most people, writing the cover letter is the most difficult, dreaded part of applying for a job. It should be tailored to a particular job, meaning that you can’t reuse the exact same letter multiple times. And it’s more open-ended than a resume, so it’s not always easy to think of something to say. But the cover letter is a great opportunity to highlight your achievements and to stand out from other applicants, so it’s worth spending some extra time on it to make it shine.
Need help getting started? Here are the crucial points to include in your letter.
Address the letter to a specific person: Look up the name of the hiring manager who will receive your application. If you don’t see a name in the application instructions, call up the organization and ask. Then you can begin the letter with “Dear” followed by the person’s name, which shows your attention to detail, rather than “To Whom It May Concern,” which can come across as vague and awkward.
Indicate the job you’re applying for: Within the first few sentences of your letter, state the job you’re applying for. If you aren’t responding to an opening, mention the department where you’d like to work and your level of experience. Being clear about your goals focuses the recipient’s attention and prevents mixups. For example, you don’t want the hiring manager to incorrectly assume you’re aiming for an operations management position—and to evaluate your qualifications with that assumption in mind—when you’re actually hoping to work as a night auditor.
Explain why you’re a good fit: Your resume gives a hiring manager the facts about your work experience, but it doesn’t explain why those facts mean you’re the right person for a job. That’s where your cover letter comes in. Look at the responsibilities of the role you’re applying for (or typical requirements for the type of role you want, if you aren’t responding to a job posting). In a paragraph or two, show how your experiences have prepared you to meet those responsibilities. For example, suppose your previous experience was in a restaurant and you’re now applying for a housekeeping manager position in a hotel. If the job you’re applying for involves tracking inventory and establishing safety procedures, you might emphasize your previous work managing food supplies and describe a kitchen safety initiative you spearheaded.
Tell a story from your experience: Choose one of your achievements from your resume and present it as a story with a beginning, middle, and end. What problem did you need to solve? What skills did you use to tackle it? And what were the results? If you’re applying to be a marketing manager and you’ve mentioned your experience with research, generating leads, and tracking metrics, this is the place to tell the story of a marketing campaign you led and to show how your talents contributed to its success. Then, as in the preceding section, make the case that this experience prepares you for the job you want.
Mention the next step: To conclude your letter, politely request that the hiring manager contact you to move forward in the interview process. Finally, end on a cordial note by saying, “I’m looking forward to hearing from you” and thanking the recipient for reviewing your application.
To find your next hotel job, register and upload your resume here.