Prepare a Cover Letter

Edited by Robbi, Lynn, Melissa Rae

The dreaded cover letter. Just about everybody who's applied for a job has struggled in some way with the cover letter. Whether it's even necessary, who you should address it to and what to include are only some of the considerations that might be running through your mind. It can help to think of a cover letter as your first impression and the introduction to your resume. Most people say that no matter what the industry, your cover letter should not be more than one page. Human resource departments are often busy, and including a cover letter may get you an extra glance. Some positions even require it. However, if your cover letter is too long, then it can count against you. If it's missing, again, it can count against you. Just like the three little bears, you want it not too long, not too short, not absent, but just right. Accomplishing that sometimes seems like an impossible task. That is true for the most part because many people are not accomplished at writing, especially not business writing. The fact is that most of the world does not know how to write a cover letter. Follow the steps below to write the best cover letter you can, and increase your chances of landing a great new job.

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How to Write a Cover Letter

  1. 1
    Try to find out the name of the hiring manager.
    The opening greeting or salutation is important. If you can, greet them personally by using their name on the letter. You can search for their name online, using sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook. Scour the company's website for as much information you can. Perhaps you could even call the company anonymously and ask the name of the hiring manager. They may or may not give it to you, but it's worth a try. If you are unable to do so, rather than "To whom it may concern," a simple "Sir" or "Ma'am" may be more effective if you know their gender.
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  2. 2
    Mention your reference.
    If you know someone who works with the company, it's no longer considered inappropriate to name them. For example, "Joseph Davis thought I might be a good fit for your company and recommended that I contact you" is a reasonable to include in the cover letter. Just make sure that they're considered a reliable employee on good terms with the company, or this could backfire.
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  3. 3
    Match the company's tone.
    If you're applying for a position at a company that takes itself very seriously, keep the tone on the formal side and refrain from injecting too much personality into the cover letter. However, if the company is laid-back and casual, you may want to include a little more personality so they can see that you would fit in with the culture. Try not to sound too robotic. Either way, always keep it professional and tailored to the job position.
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  4. 4
    Keep it short and to the point.
    Under one page is normally the best way to go. Do not mention irrelevant work experience in your cover letter, and keep it concise.
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  5. 5
    Offer specific examples of how you would fit the position.
    This is your chance to show them how you will improve their bottom line. Detail the ways that you saved money or forwarded the agenda of your past employers, and explain how you would be a good fit for the company. Write your cover letter as a complement to your resume, but do not repeat it word-for-word. If possible, re-read the job posting and match your skills and experience to the position you're applying for. Explain how your skills are something that they need.
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  6. 6
    Keep the layout clean.
    Use a simple font and keep your cover letter free from unnecessary formatting and clutter.
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How to Format Your Cover Letter

  1. 1
    Enter your contact information at the top.
    Include your name, address, phone number and email address.
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  2. 2
    Start with an introduction.
    Address the recipient and introduce yourself. Give a brief description of your current professional or academic status, if applicable.
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  3. 3
    Write the main body of the cover letter.
    This may range from one to three paragraphs, depending on the position you're applying for. Make sure to include only relevant, concise information that addresses your fitness for the position. You can build upon the information in you resume and give it a little more detail and meaning.
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  4. 4
    Write the concluding paragraph.
    Request an interview and tell the employer your preferred methods of contact. Be sure to thank the recipient for their time, and express that you're looking forward to hearing from them. If you have a sample of work you wish to share, mention it in the cover letter or offer to provide it at their request.
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Special Considerations for Writing your Cover Letter

  • Be polite and use a professional, yet personable tone throughout your cover letter.
  • Proofread your cover letter several times, and if you can, have someone else check it out just to make sure that there are no mistakes. Use a spell checker and grammar checker.
  • If you're sending it by mail, use professional stationery and a business envelope to send your resume.
  • If you send your cover letter and resume in an email, you should call the company and let them know that you have emailed it.
  • If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Article Info

Categories : Business & Management

Recent edits by: Lynn, Robbi

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