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How to write a Cover Letter - Writing Tips

Cover Letter Writing Tips

The Purpose of the Cover Letter
  • To serve as a business letter to transmit your resume to a prospective employer. This is a good way to highlight points on your resume.
  • To introduce you and your background to the employer.
  • To serve as a sales letter, intended to convince the prospective employer that you have something valuable to contribute and that it would be worth their time to interview you.
Organization of the Cover Letter
  • Paragraph 1:  Why are you writing? Mention contact person (who told you about the job) in the first sentence.
  • Paragraph 2:  Why should they hire you? This takes the most work because you need to "hook" the reader. "As indicated on the enclosed resume..." mention degree, specific course work, work experience, extracurricular activities, summary of resume - two or three things most central to the qualifications.
  • Paragraph 3:  Why do you want to work for them? Optional.
  • Paragraph 4:  The close. Be assertive - I will call you (be specific about when) for an appointment (not "interview"). Do not hesitate to call me at (phone #). If you say you will call, then call. Telephone skills are very important.
The Cover Letter Needs To Be:
  • Typed
  • Original
  • Addressed to a specific person (put every effort into finding a contact name!)
  • Upbeat and confident
  • Not repetitious of the resume
  • Written on matching stationary
  • Short and to the point
More Tips ...
  • Do not exceed one page.
  • Address the letter to a specific individual. Call to request the name and title of the person responsible for hiring. College graduates in your area. "Dear Sir or Madam" is no longer considered proper in professional correspondence.
  • Some people are offended by being called "Madam." Contemporary literature suggests deleting the salutation when you do not know whom you are addressing. You may direct the letter to someone with a specific job title, such as Director of Editorial Services, or simply begin the letter without a salutation.
  • Sound positive arid confident. Your cover letter should motivate the reader to find out more about you, that is, to read your resume and maybe even interview you.
  • Write an attention-getting introduction. Remember the three basic functions of an opening to invite, inform, and entice.
  • State the position for which you are applying and point out your relevant qualifications. Tell why you are uniquely suited for the job you are seeking. Avoid using "I" to begin every sentence.
  • Focus on certain qualifications you wish to emphasize. Do not merely repeat the contents of your resume. Select specific experiences relevant to the job and about details. Fill in the blanks your resume leaves open.
  • Tailor your letter to needs of the company and the requirements of the position. How will the employer benefit by employing you? Want ads and company publications offer clues about what to stress. Get inside information about the workings of your chosen industry by reading trade publications and business magazines and contacting trade associations.
  • Inform employers of your intention to contact them within the next few weeks. Make a follow-up call once the resume and letter have been sent.
  • Match your stationary arid resume stock in size, weight, and shade. Traditionally, the 8.5" x 11" paper selected for the cover letters and resumes it either white, off-white, ivory or light gray and at least 24 pound bond weight.
  • Take time to demonstrate your enthusiasm and creativity in this important part of your sales pitch for the job