How to Write an HR Generalist Cover Letter

by Ruth Mayhew

A human resources generalist can screen applicants, resolve workplace conflict, counsel employees on benefits and conduct new-employee orientation. Your cover letter for a job application should express interest and proficiency in every area of HR. Many HR generalists for medium-size and large organizations use this role as a stepping-stone to management. Generalists for small businesses often are the sole HR staff. Let your cover letter highlight performance in a variety of HR duties and responsibilities.


Your introduction needs a professional "hook" that compels the recruiter or hiring manager to read your resume. Cover letters answer the question, "Why should I read this applicant's resume?" Whether you're responding to a specific job posting or sending a cold-call letter to inquire about current or future career opportunities, your first paragraph should state that you're interested in learning more about the job. Make the introductory paragraph brief; two to three sentences are sufficient.


In the second paragraph, write another couple of sentences to set up your achievements. If you're applying for a specific position, use keywords from the job posting in this paragraph to align your skills with those sought after by the employer. For example, you could write, "Employee relations, labor relations and talent management are HR areas that I particularly enjoy. But, as a generalist, I have functional expertise in all of the HR disciplines, such as talent acquisition and compensation and benefits."


An odd number of bullets usually catches the reader's eye, but any more than three bullets makes your achievements look like a laundry list. Select a few of the accomplishments of which you're most proud. Use terms like "collaborated," "monitored," "influenced" and "examined" to describe them, and use a combination of individual contributions as well as team-focused achievements. Also, include quantifiable achievements. HR departments don't generate revenue; therefore, show that you can produce measurable results that can save the company money. For example, describe a reduced percentage of turnover and its effect on cost-per-hire.


HR staff are entrusted with sensitive data about employees, including information about their wages, performance records and, in many cases, medical information. Consequently, discretion is a well-regarded trait among people in HR careers. Devote one paragraph of your cover letter to professional traits, such as leadership capabilities, sound business principles and the ability to influence change. Again, if the job posting contains specific traits the company is looking for, and you have them, include those in your letter.


The final paragraph of your letter reiterates your interest in learning more about the job. At this point, that's about all you can realistically say because you don't yet know if you're the ideal person for the job. State that you'd like the reader's favorable consideration of your qualifications and that you would be delighted to meet for an interview. Include your contact information in the final paragraph, even if it's in your stationery header. Close your letter with a respectful salutation, such as "Sincerely yours," or "Best regards."

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew began writing in 1985. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry" and "Human Resources Managers Appraisal Schemes." Mayhew earned senior professional human resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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