Components of a Winning Cover Letter and Resume

Monday, April 15, 2024
Two recruiters interviewing a man for a job

Are you in the midst of a job search and identifying promising opportunities? Ensure you are ready with a stellar cover letter and resume that effectively showcase your qualifications to potential employers! Continue reading for key components of a cover letter, as well as essential "Do's and Don'ts" for crafting impactful cover letters and resumes.

What is a cover letter?

A compelling cover letter serves as a personalized introduction to the employer, addressing key points such as the following:

  • Your interest in the role.
  • Your reasons for wanting to join the company.
  • Your relevant experience, strengths, and skills that align with the job requirements.
  • Your understanding of the position you’re applying for.

What are best practices when drafting a cover letter?

  • Create an original cover letter - While referencing cover letter examples online can be helpful, avoid the temptation to copy and paste a generic template. You’ll run the risk of blending in with countless other applicants instead of standing out and appearing unique. Moreover, online examples may lack thorough proofreading and editing for grammar and spelling accuracy.
  • Tailor your cover letter to the job - One size does not fit all when it comes to cover letters. What works for one job may not work for another. Craft a cover letter that speaks directly to the requirements and qualifications of the role. This demonstrates to employers your keen awareness of the job responsibilities and your genuine interest in the position. 
  • Providing matching contact information - You should have the same contact information on both your resume and cover letter. Tips for cover letter formatting can be found in this blog. For resume formatting examples, check out this article.
  • Address an actual person - If you have had prior communication with a hiring representative or if a name is specified in the job listing, make sure to address that individual directly instead of using a generic "To whom it may concern." In cases where the specific hiring person is unidentified, greet your cover letter with: "Dear [Company Name] Hiring Team."
  • Keep it short, keep it simple - Your cover letter should be about 2 or 3 paragraphs in length. Make sure to include the following:
    • The exact position you’re applying for.
    • How you learned about the job.
    • Why you’re the best fit for the position.
    • Your best method of contact.
  • Align your cover letter and resume with the company’s verbiage - Make sure to familiarize yourself with the company’s mission, vision, and values. You can find these on the company website. Additionally, consider using the language found in the job description when relevant.
  • Think outside the resume - Ensure that your cover letter provides unique details that complement, rather than duplicate, the information in your resume.
  • Address any possible questions or concerns - Depending on your lived experiences, such inquiries might include the following:
    • Why are there gaps in employment?
    • Why the career change?
    • If you’re overqualified for a job, why are you applying?

Resume and Cover Letter Do's and Don'ts

Check out some quick tips below to keep in mind when creating your cover letter and resume:

DO: Make sure that your email address is professional and appropriate.
DO: Keep your social media clean or private.
DO: Make sure your voicemail is set up and that the inbox is NOT full.
DO: Check your email and voicemail regularly so that you do not miss correspondence from employers.
DO: Keep the cover letter and resume to one page each.
DO: Make it clear which job that you’re applying for.
DO: Format your resume in reverse chronological order – most recent education and work history first.
DO: Emphasize accomplishments and competencies in both the cover letter and resume.
DO: Consider the naming of your cover letter and resume when saving and sending to employers. Make it easy for the recruiter/manager to identify your submission. (Suggestion: Save your resume and cover letter with the job title and/or number, your first and last name, then cover letter or resume) 

DON’T: Use overly-intricate resume or cover letter templates from the internet that might introduce formatting issues.
DON’T: Use headers and footers – applicant tracking software cannot read either.
DON’T: Use fonts smaller than 11pt.
DON’T: Submit your cover letter and resume without checking for grammatical errors.
DON’T: Use “I” statements in your resume.
DON’T: Write in paragraphs on your resume. Use bullets only.


Remember that both your cover letter and resume serve the same purpose - to highlight your best qualities and demonstrate why you are the perfect fit for the job! Make sure to include different information in each document to fully showcase your qualifications within the limited space of your cover letter and resume. Keep in mind the specific purpose and format of each document, and don't hesitate to confidently showcase your skills to the employer!