HOW TO WRITE A COVER LETTER
Along with a good resume, a good cover letter is equally important in
getting a job.
Cover Letter Guidelines
Here is a standard approach to cover letters that can be
adapted as needed for each of the situations listed. Virtually every good cover
letter follows these guidelines.
- I. Present A Good Appearance
- Your contacts with prospective employer should always be
professional. Buy good quality stationary and matching envelopes. The
standard 8-1/2 by 11 inch paper size is usually used. The preferred colors
are white, ivory or light beige paper.
- The cover letter should always be typed, on a very fine quality office
typewriter or on a letter quality or laser-based computer printer.
- It would be foolish to prepare a first quality resume and then to
include with a cover letter typed on an old home portable typewriter or on a
dot-matrix computer printer. Try to use a word processor with letter
- Do it right! Doing it right also means that you never mass
produce a cover letter. Cover letters are individually prepared,
individually written, individually typed or printed, and the material in it
should be aimed direct ly at the target, the market, the recipient.
- II. Use An Appropriate Format
- Any standard business correspondence format is acceptable. Look
at the examples for ideas.
- Impersonal letters are not given a warm reception by employers. They
may indeed, be treated the same way as you treat mass-produced advertising
materials you receive in the mail. They go into the wastebasket!
- Because the cover letter is a personal form of correspondence, you should
use the name of the person who will receive the letter. Learn it, and then
spell it correctly.
- If you are using the cover letter to send a resume as a follow-up on a
phone conversation or after a face-to face meeting, you will ruin a wonderful
opportunity if you misspell the name, title, the name of the organization, or
even a word within the letter.
- III. Provide a Friendly Review
- Begin the letter with a reminder of any prior contacts and the
reason for your correspondence now.
- Explain how you learned of the employer, why you are interested in the
organization and state the type of position you are seeking.
- IV. Target Your Skills and Experiences
- To do this well, you must know something about the organization or
person with whom you are dealing. Present any relevant background that may be
of particular interest to the person you are writing.
- Highlight your qualifications for the position. Use one or two
power-packed sentences describing how your capabilities can benefit the employer
and how you can handle the job.
- State your resume, which further details your qualifications, is
- V. Define The Next Step
- Don't close your letter without clearly identifying wha t you will do
next. Most writers of cover letters make one major mistake above all others.
It comes in the closing paragraph. It is so common that some books written by
well-known resume authorities show it as "the correct way." It is not
correct. The mistake is this: In the closing paragraph, the writer mistakenly
- "My home telephone number is 000-0000, and I may be reached there
between the hours of 4 and 6 PM daily. Please call me to arrange an interview."
- In the minds of knowledgeable people, this is a signal that the letter
writer is lazy. Why? Because it says:
- "I'm at home, and I want you to call me if you are
Instead, it is recommended that you say you'll call, that you do
call, and that you continue to call, until you get
through. If they are truly eager to call you, they have your number on a
resume, or can find it easily enough at the bottom of your letter. But by your
willingness to call, you show a sense of interest, enthusiasm and willingness to
work that the "you call me" letter writer will never be able to imply.
Here is a guideline of a cover letter:
Full Address With Zip
- Company or Agency Name
- Full Address - Zip Code
Tell where you heard of the opening or why you have selected this employer for
Describe your interest in the position, in the field of work, or in the
organization. Mention your related education. If you have work experience, be
sure to mention pertinent data or accomplishments to show that you have specific
qualifications in this field or for what particular type of work.
Refer the employer to your resume. Enlarge upon anything in it which relates
to the job of employer. Indicate that you are willing to provide additional
The closing paragraph should suggest your eagerness in arranging an interview.
Include your telephone number and the times when you are most likely to be there
or indicate a date and time when you will call the employer. End your letter
with a note of thanks.
Back to the NeighborhoodLink Main Menu
(Sincerely yours, yours truly),
Full name typed
Enclosure (your resume)