A cover letter can be a powerful tool in your job search when used correctly. Too often the letter is used incorrectly or ineffectively.
A cover letter is not a resume in paragraph form. Rehashing a resume by simply telling me where you worked and what skills you gleaned from the position (repeated for each position) is not helpful.
Instead, you should think of the cover letter as an opportunity to do two things and two things only: (1) entice the reader to read your resume through your thoughtful presentation of (2) a compelling case for why they should hire you and not the next resume in the pile. It’s your chance to make your case as to why YOUR experience will solve the firm/company’s problem.
Another thing to keep in mind is that in today’s digital age, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out who is seeing a cover letter. At our company, there are only two people and they are both guys, so I often wonder how much homework someone has done when they address a cover letter to “Sir/Madame”.
Finally, please keep the cover letter short. You need to sell yourself, but if the letter is text-dense and long, it’s a daunting task to read the entire letter (when there are 19 other letters/resumes on my desk). Please be concise and summarize why you are a good fit for the position in a couple of paragraphs.
Following these few tips will help you get more interest in your resume and should improve your job search.