If you have already gone through our post “How to Write Your Resume Cover Letter: Part One,” you have successfully created the Employer Information and Subject Line of your cover letter, and you are ready to start writing the body of your letter.

In this post, we will cover the first and second paragraphs of your cover letter to convey to employers the experience and benefits you bring to the table.

1st Paragraph: Introduction

The first paragraph has to tell the employer how you found out about the position and summarize why you’re applying and how you can benefit them. Here is a solid template you can follow:

First Sentence

Your first sentence should answer these questions: “How did you find the position?” and “Why are you sending them your resume?” It could look something like this:

“In response to your Craigslist posting for a Plant Manager, I am pleased to show you my resume.”

“After hearing about your open Plant Manager position from Jerry Smith, I had to show you my resume.”

Second Sentence

The second sentence should complete the sentence: “I would be the perfect fit for this position because…” This is where you summarize your qualifications in two or three items, like this:

“I would be the perfect fit for this position because I have five years of experience in the industry, a track record of success, and a tireless work ethic.”

Third Sentence

The third sentence should answer the question, “How can you benefit the employer?” To make sure that your answer really addresses their priorities, you’ll want to look closely at the job description and their website for clues. For example, if the employer were looking for people to train a new team of waiters, you could say something like this:

“My skills and experience would allow me to get your new waiters up to speed in less time and with better results.”

So, putting these three sentences together, your first paragraph should look something like this:

“In response to your listing on your website for a Marketing Associate, I am pleased to show you my resume. I would be the perfect fit for this position because of my passion for great marketing and my demonstrated work ethic. My drive and desire would allow me to learn fast and build campaigns that raise your marketing to new levels.”

Using this template, you have set the stage and piqued the employer’s interest to learn more in the following paragraphs.

2nd Paragraph: Proof

This paragraph will use examples from your resume to show how you will do what you said you can do in the first paragraph. This is your opportunity to catch the employer’s eye with impressive, but true, examples of your past work performance. It typically follows this pattern:

“As seen on my resume, I…”

You start off the paragraph pointing the employer to your resume, but you quickly move to defining how you want them to see you and the information on your resume, as seen in these examples:

“As seen in my resume, I am a hard-working, innovative, and detail-oriented business manager.”

“As you will see in my resume, I excel at taking on difficult challenges and turning them into victories.”

Examples

This is where you back up your talk with examples from your resume. To make this effective, you want to not only say what you did, but how it translates into how you defined yourself. For example, if you said you were hardworking, you would want to use an example like this:

“For instance, when tasked with auditing all of our ledgers in a short three-month time span, I worked 80-hour week to make sure the audit was done on time.”

The examples you use should be specific and as powerful as possible to really hit your point home. Two or three of these are usually sufficient to make your point.

“Because of my experience…”
If you’ve done a good job including solid examples, this is where you send your point home by tying those awesome examples directly to benefits for the employer. This last sentence should be something like this:

“Because my experience in succeeding in the face of tough challenges, I know I can be a powerful asset at your company.”

“Because of my deep experience as a marketing manager, I know I can succeed in bringing your new product line to market.”

By following this template, your resume will effectively tell employers what you have to offer, prove these claims, and then tie those claims directly into their self-interest. You end up with a tight paragraph, like this:

“As seen in my resume, I am a hard-working, innovative, and detail-oriented marketing manager. For instance, when tasked with auditing all of our ledgers in a short three-month time span at XYZ Corp., I worked 80-hour weeks for three months to make sure the audit was done on time. Also, I created a new tracking system to monitor all our incoming requests, which resulted in a 200 percent boost in conversion. Because of my deep experience as a marketing manager, I know I can succeed in bringing your new product line to market.”

Once you’re done writing the first two paragraphs of your cover letter, continue to “How to Write Your Resume Cover Letter: Part Three,” where you will learn how to wrap up your cover letter in powerful fashion.

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