The hiring selection or screening committee members are not required to scrutinize résumés or CVs to determine if the applicants have the skills, knowledge, experience, and abilities to fulfill all the responsibilities of a specific job. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to write a comprehensive cover letter to accompany their on-line job application and their résumé or CV. To be competitive, applicants should systematically respond to each and every Required Skill and Desired Skill listed in the job advertisement as well as the Education expectation(s).
Please note that each job advertisement is unique. Therefore, for each job, applicants must write a new cover letter addressing the required and desired skills and education expectation(s) listed in each job advertisement. Indeed, some of the information may be copied directly from the résumé or CV or be used again in a future cover letter.
Format the cover letter just as you would format any business letter. Please note that a serif font such as Times, Times Roman, Times New Roman, Palatino, or Bookman Old Style fonts, for example, are far more effective and readable than san serif fonts such as Helvetica, Arial, or Verdana. Be certain to use a large enough font to be read quite easily. In addition, make sure that your letter has margins of at least one inch on all sides.
Use your home address, not your work address, in the heading. An acceptable way to proceed with the salutation and the first paragraph of the cover letter would be as follows:
Dear Selection Committee:
Below I have detailed my qualifications for Job Number 123456 as a Materials Management Specialist.
In this way, it will be very clear for which position you are applying. Leave nothing to chance!
Because the hiring officials set up a table or a matrix to evaluate and compare how well each applicant fulfills all the skill and education elements, use specific examples to provide evidence that you have met each skill, education, and experience expectation. A simple and effective way to respond to each item is to start each statement with the past tense of an active verb. Limit each response to a line or two.
Consider including experiences beyond your current job and perhaps ones from your volunteer work or community activities to provide evidence that you are capable of performing the various job functions.
The Required Skills generally are acquired from years of education and experience. However, the Desired Skills can sometimes be obtained on a short-term basis by transferring skills. For example, the job ad might indicate that basic knowledge of MS Excel is expected.
Perhaps you have used a variety of other databases, even some that are significantly more sophisticated than MS Excel. Spend some time working with Excel software in your spare time and create some bar charts and graphs to display percentages or numbers and a spreadsheet to track a specific work activity. Thus, you can write a response that indicates that you are able to perform various basic MS Excel functions. For example:
- create bar charts and graphs to show percentages of the diverse ethnic groups represented in my organization;
- develop a spreadsheet to track time spent performing a variety of job tasks in the geothermal project;
- generate a line graph to show annual increases in productivity since purchasing streamlined, efficient manufacturing equipment in 2001.
Be specific, brief, thorough, and relevant. Do not ramble. On the other hand, do not worry about the overall length of your cover letter because it is very important to be comprehensive.
If you have both education as well as experience that would provide evidence that you can fulfill the education expectations, include them both. For example:
Technical background with a bachelor’s degree in business or related area or equivalent combination of relevant education and experience required.
- B.A. in business from College of Santa Fe, 1989.
- 10 years of experience at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in quality assurance, including 5 years of experience in BUS-4 shipping and packaging and 5 years of experience at LANL as a materials handler.
If you are a Laboratory employee with a Z number, include your Z number following your name on the signature line at the end of your cover letter. For example:
Martin Martinez, Z# 013579
Electronic Friendly Version
Remove the bold from each title.
Before each return under each required, desired, or education element, insert a hyphen (-) and type brief statements starting with the past tense of an active verb to give evidence of how you have fulfilled the required and desired skills and education expectations. Provide specific examples to prove that you can do what is expected of the successful applicant. A line or two should be ample.
Insert returns between items as needed.
Reader Friendly Version
Type brief statements starting with the past tense of an active verb to give evidence of how you have fulfilled the required and desired skills and education expectations. Provide specific examples to prove that you can do what is expected of the successful applicant. A line or two should be ample.
Insert returns between items as needed.
Highlight your responses and create a bulleted format for each response.