Experts say that cover letters are extremely important when evaluating job candidates, therefore it's important that you send one with your resume when applying for a job. Keep in mind that your cover letter will be the first thing the hiring manager will see when he/she opens the envelope that contains your resume so your cover letter must be constructed in a way that gets the hiring manager's attention.
A cover letter is a personal letter from you to the hiring manager introducing yourself and your qualifications. Your goal should be to spark the employers interest and show enthusiasm for the company and the position. Keep in mind that a cover letter is a type of business letter. When you compose your cover letter, you must include all the essential elements of a business letter and decide which letter style to use.
Cover letters take some thought so following a proven technique for constructing them will help you create a cover letter that will convince a hiring manager to give you an interview. Some experts recommend using a technique called AIDA, which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action for crafting the body of your letter. While originally designed for use in business, AIDA has been proven to be an effective method for creating cover letters.
In the first paragraph of your cover letter, grab the hiring manager's attention by telling him/her why you are writing. For example:
"I would like to apply for the Administrative Assistant position I saw advertised on Craigslist"
"I am interested in learning more about career opportunities for Administrative staff at your company"
Rouse the hiring manager's Interest In the second paragraph of your letter by explaining what makes you uniquely qualified for the position. For example:
State how you are qualified for the position by mentioning three or four of your major accomplishments. Use your Resume Questionnaire as a guideline. For example:
Don't be afraid to ask the hiring manager for a job interview. Close your letter with one of the following examples:
I would love to interview for your Administrative Assistant position. You can reach me anytime at 408-555-1212.
Cover Letter Styles
JobStar Central - Cover Letter Resources
Resumes, applications and cover letters - US Department of Labor