Experience, whether the job requires it or not, adds value to your application. Use your cover letter to introduce yourself, your background and your interest in your potential employer's work. Perhaps the position you seek is so specialised that the ideal candidate is simply able and willing to learn on the job. Writing about your similar learning experiences demonstrates your interest in and capability for future learning. As with any job, research your potential employer thoroughly, learning about the company or individual's history, mission and practices. Update your resume and prepare to consult it in the writing process. Your cover letter should not exceed one page and it should include three to four paragraphs.
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Things you need
- Word processing software
Choose a business letter template from the template selection included with your word processing software, or design your own. Set the letter's margins at 1 or 1½ inches on all sides and choose a professional typeface no smaller than 11-point.
Use your research on your employer, the job advertisement and your resume to make notes on how your background prepares you for the type of job you seek. Even though the job advertisement does not list specific experience as being necessary, it might list skills or attitudes an applicant should have. Have you had jobs that gave you the opportunity to use or sharpen these skills? What experiences have you had that demonstrate your leadership potential, motivation or organisation? These qualities are generally desirable and your cover letter should demonstrate them. Have you had the chance to learn a new and challenging program or procedure during a previous job? If so, write about it and how your positive attitude about learning prepares you for your potential employer's line of business or for the type of position you seek.
Also note in your cover letter accomplishments that you did not include in your resume because of space or time limitations.
Address your cover letter to the person who has the authority to hire you, if possible. "Hiring Manager" is a safe generic title if you do not have the name of any contact at your potential employer.
Use your first paragraph to explain how you learnt about the position and why you would like to be considered for it. If you have direct experience that pertains to the job, say so. You will not be penalised for "unnecessary" experience; it can only help. Keep this paragraph no longer than four sentences.
Consult your notes to draft one to two additional paragraphs describing two to four of your experiences that highlight your strengths and skills. Avoid quoting your resume, instead using your experiences as jumping-off points to demonstrate your knowledge about your potential employer and your enthusiasm for joining their staff. If you have formal education or extensive experience that prepares you for the job, say so. "No experience required" rarely means "great experience turned away." At the same time, if you do not have relevant experience, be honest. Your attitude and aptitude might be more valuable to your potential employer than relevant experience.
Write a final paragraph thanking your potential employer for considering your application, saying that you look forward to their response and suggesting your general availability for an interview in person or by phone. Say that you will follow up by phone or e-mail in two weeks and place the date on your calendar. Sometimes following up on a cover letter lands you the job.
Tips and warnings
- As with any formal piece of writing, use active voice and concise sentences as much as possible and proofread your cover letter several times.
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