Many of my clients have asked me the purpose of a Cover Letter and when should it be used. The short answer is here are a few reasons:
It shows your enthusiasm for the position or towards the company that a resume cannot.
It may explain breaks in employment.
It can highlight certain skills that are desired by the employer but not spelled out in plain English in your resume (not a "tailored resume").
The company asked for it in addition to your resume for the 3 reasons above.
So what is the best way to write a Cover Letter? There are a million versions online and they all look like it could work! Yeah, exactly... I know!! Here are a few quick tips to customizing your own:
Start with Google and use one as a template (of course, don't copy it verbatim).
Address the Letter to the hiring manager by name. Can't find their number, address their department. Never use "To whom it may concern"... ain't nobody concerned!
Start it off by addressing why you were drawn to this position. Say... ever since graduating from Cool University, you've always wanted to work for an innovative company that expresses their appreciation of success through their employees... this is what motivated me to apply for the Cool position at Blah Blah Company.
Continue with why you are a perfect fit... highlight 3-4 accomplishments from your resume or key skills they are looking for.
Mention something in the news that the company is doing and how you can help this initiative.
Then end it with providing your contact info and that you are attaching your resume. Suggest that they can contact you to discuss your awesomeness further or let them know that you will follow up with them by [insert a date].
As you can see, Cover Letters can be molded any way... just don't forget to mold it around what you want your future employer to know about you. It is your time to shine!!