What Must Be Included in Job Application Cover Letters

As a former sales manager in the pharmaceutical industry, I received my fair share of job applications from individuals who wanted careers with my company. Normally, people would send in their resumes along with a cover letter. I found it quite interesting to see that in the vast majority of cases, people seemed to put the bulk of their efforts in their resumes with minimal effort in their cover letters.

It seemed to me that most cover letters were considered as just a formality in addition to the resumes. Apart from the usual contact information and the title of the job position being applied for, there was usually nothing much more written in cover letters except for the ‘see my resume attached’ line. This casual approach to cover letters is wrong.

Especially in the case where specific job openings are very much in demand that attracts hundreds and perhaps even thousands of job applicants, the hiring parties such as managers, recruiters and human resource staff need ways to weed out the unqualified candidates. There would be just too many resumes to read.

Rather than just writing that you are a hard worker, organized, outgoing, etc., like many other applicants will likely do in a cover letter, address specific job qualifications that are stated in the job posting ad and give some backup to support your claim. If a job posting states that candidates should have points A, B and C, then you should also make sure that your cover letter addresses points A, B as well as C.

Many people reviewing cover letters will look for such points in order to determine whether they will even bother to look at your resume at all. You want to use your cover letter as a teaser so that reviewers will want to look at your resume. One way to cut down the number of applicants to a manageable number is by just looking at cover letters. If the grammar and content on a cover letter is poor, a bad impression will already be in the reviewer’s mind. If I can’t determine from a cover letter that you have all the qualifications mentioned in the stated job requirements and I have a huge pile of resumes in front of me, then there is a high chance that I won’t read your resume.

So my advice is to spend some time writing out your cover letter and make sure that it covers all the points stated on the job posting. Use the cover letter as a tool to entice me to review your resume.