Your job application package consists of a cover letter and a resume. Each document serves a specific purpose and has a particular format. Whenever you apply for a position, send both documents unless the employer has asked for a resume only. Use the appropriate delivery method -- email, fax or postal mail -- and remember to sign the cover letter. Make sure that both documents use the same header, font and paper.
Purpose of a Cover Letter
A cover letter adds a personal touch to the job application. When a prospective employer reads your cover letter, he knows immediately whether to read your resume. Write a letter that demonstrates your enthusiasm for the position, company and industry. Let the employer know how you learned about the position and why you would be a good fit for the company. Include highlights of your education, experience and background that are relevant to the position. State exactly what documents you are attaching or enclosing: resume, transcript, references or testimonials. Provide additional information not contained in the resume, such as your availability dates for an interview and your follow-up procedure.
Purpose of a Resume
A resume provides a brief summary of your education, skills, work experience and accomplishments. A well-written resume speaks loudly and clearly about your value as a potential employee. The performance profile and competency statements contain action words and the appropriate keywords -- words and phrases that represent knowledge, skills and abilities required for the industry. When a prospective employer reads your resume, she can answer the following questions: "How will this employee benefit our organization?" "What strengths does he bring to our workplace?"
Format of a Cover Letter
A cover letter is a business letter. The inside address contains the name, title, organization and address of the prospective employer. Ensure that you have the correct spelling and title of the employer and use it in the salutation.
Most cover letters contain three paragraphs. Use the first paragraph to introduce yourself and ask to be considered for the job. Focus on your skills and achievements in the second paragraph. Ask for an interview in the third paragraph. Use an appropriate complimentary closing: Yours respectfully, Yours sincerely, Cordially yours or Yours truly. Include your handwritten and typewritten signature.
Format of a Resume
You can use the reverse chronological or functional format for your resume. The reverse chronological resume lists all employment and education, beginning with the most recent and working backward. More informal in tone, the functional format highlights three to five skill areas and downplays employment history. Start with a performance profile that contains three to five of your greatest skills and achievements. Alternatively, you can use a job objective or focus statement. The Work Experience section includes information about current and past employment. In the Education section, list all diplomas, degrees, certificates and training relevant to the position. Create additional sections to highlight proficiency in languages, computer expertise and volunteer involvement.