Writing An Effective Cover Letter

The cover letter provides you with the opportunity to distinguish yourself from other job seekers. You should always include a cover letter to introduce your resume. This page gives some suggestions that will help you produce an effective cover letter.

TIPS

Be brief. A cover letter should be no more than one page long. Make every word count. Don’t mass produce one letter; write each letter individually and tailor it to individual employers. Use your own words; let your personality and enthusiasm show through. Avoid words that you are not comfortable using in everyday speech. Be persuasive. Use strong action verbs. Don’t overuse the word “I.” Focus on the employer’s point of view.

FORMAT

  1. Begin with your return address, and date your letter
  2. Include name and address of contact person with appropriate courtesy title (i.e. Mr. or Ms.). List the title and department after the contact person’s name. Make sure the employer’s address and spelling is correct.
  3. Follow the salutation with a colon.
  4. Use a complimentary closing (i.e. Sincerely, or Sincerely yours) followed by a comma.
  5. Leave a quadruple space for your signature, and type your full name.
  6. Indicate that you enclosed your resume.

CONTENT

  1. The first paragraph is the most important. It should capture the reader’s attention and motivate him/her to read the rest of the letter. Describe specific personal knowledge of the company, but avoid broad generalizations. Tell the reader why you are writing the letter. For instance, are you applying for a particular job, or are you inquiring about a possible position?
  2. The next few paragraphs explain your qualifications and how they pertain to the position. Begin with a statement that summarizes the theme of your letter. Discuss why you want the job, and what benefits you will provide the company. Explain how your experiences, whether they be work, academic, extracurricular, volunteer, etc., make you a good candidate for the position. Do not repeat information on your resume unless you elaborate or apply it to the position.
  3. The final paragraph suggests your plan of action. Explain to the reader what you want and what you plan to do. Refer the reader to your enclosed resume. Express your desire for an interview, and mention that you will call after a specified period of time. Thank the reader for his/her time, and provide your contact information, specifically your phone number. Close with a statement that encourages a response.

APPEARANCE (typical)