Job Search Skills
Unless you are handing your resumé directly to the person who will read it and you have an opportunity to speak to that person about your skills and abilities, you should always include a cover letter. The cover letter acts as an introduction to the reader and encourages him or her to read the resumé carefully.
Today, employers receive many applications for each job, so they may never read beyond the cover letter. You have approximately 30 seconds to grab the employer’s attention and persuade him or her to read your resumé. Otherwise, your application may end up in the recycling bin.
Cover letters and resumés are often sent electronically. You can either type the content of the cover letter into an email, or attach it as a separate document along with your resumé. If you submit it this way, be sure to include a short email stating your interest in the position and that your cover letter and resume are attached. Be clear to identify your purpose for the email by using the subject line. For example, the subject line “D. PETERSON – Resumé” will clearly show the recipient the purpose of the email.
Cover letters have three parts: an introduction that explains why your resumé is sitting on the person’s desk, the benefits of hiring you for the job, and a closing that focuses on the outcome you want: asking the employer to contact you.
Writing Cover Letters
To write an appealing cover letter, keep in mind the following:
- Use standard, business letter format; start with your complete mailing address and the date the application will be mailed.
- Always address the cover letter to an individual; if you do not know the person’s name, call the company and inquire. Make sure that the information including the spelling of the person’s name, his or her title, the company name, and the address is correct.
- Use an appropriate salutation such as “Dear Ms Jones,” or “Dear Selection Committee” (ask when you call the company or refer to the job ad).
- Make sure that your opening gains interest and explains why you are sending this application. If you are responding to a job advertisement, give specific details (newspaper or website in which the ad appeared, title of job, date, posting number). A sample of a cover letter in response to a job advertisement is shown below. If you were asked to apply or were recommended by someone who knows the individual, say so.
- Briefly mention the qualities or experience you have that meet the company’s requirements. Show that you have done your homework. Be positive and realistic. Explain why you would be an asset to the company. Do not mention salary (unless specifically requested to) and don’t express any doubts about your ability to handle the job.
- Suggest a meeting to further discuss how you could benefit the company. You could indicate that you will follow up with an email or phone call, or ask to hear from the reader. Make it easy for the person to contact you; give your contact information in the form of email and a phone number.
- Sign your letter.
- Proofread your letter very carefully.
If sending in a hard copy:
- Use good quality stationery of the same type and colour as used for your resumé.
- Do not staple the letter to the resumé. Place the letter on top.
- Send your cover letter and resumé, unfolded, in an 8.5″ x 11″ envelope.
Sample Cover Letters
Example 1: When responding to a job advertisement
|1655 Frederick Street
May 28, 2015
Mr. Steve Cooke
Dear Mr. Cooke:
I believe that I have the skills and experience you require for the First Cook position you advertised on the go2HR website on May 27, 2015. I have just received my Professional Cook 3 Certificate of Qualification after completing a three-year apprenticeship with Freddy’s Restaurants in Kelowna, B.C. You will find me a hardworking and enthusiastic employee who works well in a team.
I have worked breakfast, lunch, and dinner shifts preparing a full range of menu items. My job at Freddy’s Restaurant was fast paced and taught me to prepare a high volume of menu items at a consistently high quality. I have had the pleasure of dining at Abby’s several times and have always been impressed with the quality of food and professional service.
I have assisted with preparing banquets on a regular basis for occasions such as weddings, birthday celebrations, conferences, and business meetings. I am available to work evenings and weekends. Further details of my work experience and education may be found in the attached resumé.
May I hear from you soon regarding an interview? You may contact me at 778-555-3301 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Example 2: When looking for job leads (unsolicited)
|345 Any Street
June 21, 1996
Ms Alanna Stevens
Dear Ms. Stevens:
Are you looking for a motivated sous-chef to assist with the planned expansion of the South Shore Resorts food services described in the business section of the Anytown Times on June 19, 2014? I am looking for just such a challenge.
I have worked in all food service areas of a large hotel, including the coffee shop, dining room, and pub kitchens. I have prepared banquets for up to 300 people. During the absence of the sous-chef, I assumed all of his duties, receiving the commendation of the executive chef.
I have recently completed a distance education course in food and beverage cost control offered by the Open Learning Agency. As part of this course, I completed an analysis of the menu for the Pleasant Stay Hotel dining room. My report was implemented by the executive chef and has already led to increased revenues.
I will be visiting Sunny Acres during the week of July 10 to 17 and would like to discuss employment opportunities at South Shore Resorts with you. I will contact you to set up an appointment on July 2, 2014. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the qualifications I have outlined in the attached resumé, please contact me at (250) 555-1234 or by email at email@example.com.
Information to Leave Out of Cover Letters and Resumés
The Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, gender, religion, place of origin, sexual orientation, political belief, marital status, family status, age, and criminal or summary conviction unrelated to employment. This includes information about your plans for marriage or child care, your date of birth, place of birth, height, or weight.
Employers are not allowed to ask you for a photograph that might identify your race and gender. Nor can they ask about present or previous health problems, WorkSafeBC claims, or any absence due to stress or mental illness. They cannot ask about military service outside Canada. Information related to these prohibited grounds should not be included in your resumé. Most employers will not request this information.
If you are asked for inappropriate information, you have three options:
- Fill in the information or answer the question even though it may be illegal.
- Write a dash or N/A (not applicable) in the application form.
- Send a copy of the application form or advertisement to the Human Rights Commission and make a complaint.