Do you need a cover letter for hospitality jobs? If so, what should it say?
Job applicants in hospitality often have questions about writing the cover letter. Employers don’t usually specify what they want to see in this document, and you can’t rely as closely on a template as you could with a resume. However, there are some guidelines you can follow to improve your cover letter. And for some employers, you can actually skip the cover letter altogether.
Do you need a cover letter?
In some situations, you don’t need a cover letter. First, if a recruiter tells you to send a resume only, then you should follow those instructions. Also, if you’re applying online and the application form doesn’t ask for a cover letter, you can do without it. In those cases, the employer has decided that the resume or other facets of the application provide enough information and that the cover letter isn’t needed. This is becoming more common now that online applications can easily pull information from LinkedIn and customize questions for the job.
Otherwise, include a cover letter. Cover letters have been a job search standard for a few decades, so they are often expected. Unless the employer indicates to leave it out, it’s safe to assume that you should attach one.
Cover letter basics
A cover letter should be no longer than a page and should usually consist of about three or four paragraphs of a few sentences each. The tone should be respectful and professional—similar to the way you might speak to a supervisor at work, rather than the way you speak to friends. Don’t use slang or crack jokes in your letter. However, make sure that the language is still natural and that the letter would make sense if spoken out loud. If you’re using phrases that are so formal you’d never say them in a conversation with your boss, rewrite them so they sound more like the way you talk.
In your cover letter, refer to the job you’re applying for and briefly summarize or highlight your relevant experience. Then make the case that you are the best person for the job. Employers want to see that you understand their needs and that you’re a good match. Mention specific requirements of the job and explain how your qualifications prepare you to meet those requirements. Employers are impressed by cover letters that show you’ve done research into the company and the open position and that you’ve thought carefully about why you would succeed at the job.
Writing a cover letter when you don’t have much experience
When you’re just starting out and don’t have work experience to discuss, writing the cover letter is a little more tricky. But the goal stays the same: you want to convince the employer that you’re the best candidate for the job. Do not apologize for your lack of experience or make excuses for it. Instead, talk about the experience you do have, even if it’s not from employment. Have you volunteered for a charity, participated in a community organization, or completed a project at school? Then you’ve developed skills like teamwork that can be applied in a hospitality setting. Describe what you gained from those experiences and why your skills make you a good fit for the position.
If you don’t have any volunteer or academic experiences to talk about, you can write about why your personality would fit in at this workplace. Mention some of your personality traits and skills, such as attention to detail and listening ability, and explain how you would use each one on the job. You can show the employer that you understand what the job entails and that you’ve given thought to it.