Cover Letters

The cover letter is a selling tool that helps to introduce your resume to an employer. You should send a cover letter along with each résumé or application you are mailing. It gives you an opportunity to promote your abilities and qualifications in a more direct manner. Above all, it makes that important first impression.

  • As in any business letter, the cover letter usually contains three main parts: the introduction, the body, and the closing. A good cover letter will expand upon your résumé by adding a personal flavor to your approach. Keep your audience in mind when you are writing; make an appeal to their interests.
  • The introductory paragraph establishes your intent to apply for a particular job opening. Use a strong opening sentence that will motivate the employer to read further. If you are responding to an ad, or if someone has referred you to the employer, put that contact point first! If you are writing to an organization that may or may not have openings, build the organization's interest in you. The goal is to attract attention.
  • The middle paragraph sells your credentials to the employer. In this section, show how your background perfectly matches the job for which you are applying. Establish a connection between what you have to offer and the employer's needs by briefly describing some high points of your background. Don't repeat everything on your résumé, but create a desire to read the résumé to get the details.
  • The closing should be brief and direct. State a given time period when you would be available for an interview, and specifically ask for an appointment. Sharing your convenient times indicates a person of responsibility. Add your phone number, and if you have an answering machine, assure the employer that you return calls promptly.

Important Points

  • Addressing the letter to a specific person is best. Never use "To Whom It May Concern."
  • Tailor each letter to each employer and job! Learn all you can about the employer before you write, and know why you want to work for that organization.
  • Spell the person's name correctly! If including a title, make sure it is their correct title.
  • Limit the letter to one page.
  • Try to be "reader-oriented." Use "you" or "your organization more than you use "I" and my."
  • Be positive and direct. Avoid words that express doubt, such as "I hope. . ." or "I think. . ." Also, avoid conveying an inflated sense of ego!
  • Proofread! Any misspellings, poor grammar, or typing errors will eliminate you immediately.
  • Don't forget to sign the letter. Omitting something simple like this is often a sign of carelessness.
  • Use good bond paper and a high-quality typewriter or printer. The same as the resume.
  • Don't attempt to flatter the employers.