Mastering Your Cover Letter
After you feel like your resume is in good shape to start submitting to jobs and you’ve found some positions you would like to apply for, it’s time to start working on your cover letter. If you have an opportunity to include a cover letter with your application, it's a very good idea to do so to help differentiate you from other candidates and include more details about your interest in the job. Cover letters are usually written as separate documents but they can also be simply a cover email.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when writing your cover letter is not to just regurgitate your resume. This is your opportunity to use prose to draw parallels or highlight an experience that makes you uniquely suited to the role. And don’t use a generic letter that doesn’t tie you to the specific company and job in question.
Opening of the Letter
You should try to avoid addressing your letter to a generic human being, such as “Hiring Manager” or "Dear Sir or Madam". Try to find the person's name who you are submitting the application to, or just drop it all together. Keep your letter to no more than three paragraphs at most and every sentence in your letter should give a specific reason for hiring you. This is an opportunity to sell yourself and stand out.
Body of the Letter
As you start to write the body of your cover letter, avoid the sentence, "I am writing to apply for the position you advertised". Instead, think of something relevant to the company and position, based on your research of the company and knowledge of the position. Once you have gotten their attention, you need to let them know what position you're applying for and why.
For the body of the cover letter, you can use bullet points or brief paragraphs to explain your qualifications and how you will contribute to the organization. Be sure to include your email address and phone number at both the top and the bottom of your letter. And always remember to proof your cover letter multiple times to ensure there aren’t any typos, spelling mistakes, etc.
Addressing Your Cancer Diagnosis
In terms of addressing your cancer diagnosis in your cover letter, this is a personal decision that each individual needs to make for themselves depending on their own situation and what feels right to them. There is no requirement or obligation to disclose your diagnosis in a cover letter. That being said, given that the cover letter is just a tool designed—along with a resume—to get you a phone interview or in person meeting it is not generally the place for disclosing a diagnosis because there is no opportunity for discussion. A cover letter is skimmed by a hiring manager to determine if you can put coherent thoughts together and make a good argument about how you bring something unique to the role so you want to focus on doing that and then make a decision about disclosure once you are engaged in the hiring process more deeply.
Key pointers to keep in mind as you write your cover letter
- Open with a bang
- Make it personal
- Don't waste the reader's time
- Sell yourself
- Use bullets
- Explain your next step
- Proof your letter