by Darlene Zambruski, CPRW, SME
There are generally three cover letter types for the jobseeker:
1. Those sent to a specified person (eg: the hiring authority)
2. Those sent in response to a “blind” advertisement (eg: only PO Box or Job Reference # is provided)
3. Those sent to recruiters
Cover Letters Sent to a Specific Person
When you have the hiring manager’s name, always use it in the salutation, no exception. This personalizes the letter and shows attention to detail on your part. In the opening paragraph, state the job for which you’re applying as the hiring manager may have posted for numerous company openings that week. In the body of your cover letter detail what qualifications and skills you have that relate to this new job opening.
Cover Letters Sent in Response to a “Blind” Posting
Often, a job seeker will reply to newspaper ads requesting that a resume and cover letter be sent to a PO Box # with no indication as to the company’s name or the hiring manager’s identity. Online, jobseekers will find Job Reference #’s as the only identification provided. In each of these cases, the cover letter content remains the same – showcase experience and qualifications as it relates to the new position. However, rather than using the outdated “Dear Sir or Madam,” or worse “To Whom It May Concern,” as a salutation, instead drop the salutation altogether and write:
Re: Job Reference # (then include the number in the job posting)
- or –
Re: Assistant Store Manager’s Position
After that reference, drop down one line, then begin the cover letter’s first paragraph.
Cover Letters Sent to Recruiters
Recruiters represent clients in terms of finding the appropriate employee (you) for a company (their client). Because of this, you must be clear in your cover letter as to what your preferred industry and position may be, where you’re willing to work (and travel or relocate, if necessary), and salary considerations (if negotiable, include this information). The remainder of your cover letter will contain the same data as that going to a specified hiring manager or a “blind” posting – that is, you will include your skills and qualifications as they relate to your preferred industry and position. In other words, you will be selling yourself to a recruiter, rather than to a hiring manager.