How To Address a Cover Letter

Every day human resource departments and other hiring personnel see a countless number of resumes and job applications - either in person or electronically.  Depending on the position or applications received, a number of these are likely to be disregarded when information is -

  • Missing or left blank
  • Full of bad grammar or punctuation errors
  • Not relevant to the position

There was once a time when a prospective employer would address anything that may be in question or in need of correction.  As the job market becomes more flooded, it is important for the applicant to make themselves look as good as possible, especially when not seen in person.  This is why having a good cover letter comes in handy.

Having a cover letter eliminates a lot of gray area.  For one, it allows an applicant to address their information directly to the person that is hiring for a position.  Unless specified to do so, sending a resume to the human resources department does not ensure that the person doing the actual hiring will see their resume.  Another advantage is that having a contact name makes it easier to do a follow-up on the status of an application.

Whether dealing with personnel staff or an individual contact, having a cover letter gives a summary of why a person should be hired.  Some people think of it as a “sales pitch” on one sheet of paper so as to entice reading the more detailed information on a resume.

If possible, it should be addressed to the person in charge of hiring.  When not sure about the contact person’s name, the salutation can be ‘Madam or Sir’ or the department it is forwarded to.

The next item on a cover letter may seem insignificant to the applicant but is important to the employer.  That is naming the source of where they found out about the job.  If an ad was placed online and/or in print form, the human resources would like to know the visibility and possibly the demographic of those who have responded.

In the second paragraph, a summary of skills and abilities are listed as well as possible advantages one may have over the competition.  This could include, but is not limited to, being able to work overtime with a moment’s notice or the ability to work flexible hours. This should wrap up with the applicant letting the prospective employer know how they would be an asset to the organization or department.

The final paragraph should address the recipient personally by letting them know that they will be in touch within a number of days or weeks for a follow-up and thanking them for taking the time to read their cover letter and resume, followed by the appropriate closing .


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