How to Write an Effective Cover Letter
Before you begin writing, you need to understand the objective of the cover letter. It is used to present a brief overview of your skills and attributes to the prospective employer. By presenting your information in a concise, orderly fashion, you let the reader know that your expertise is highly valuable to the company. Make sure you cite specific examples that directly relate to the position you are applying for. Your cover letter serves as a targeted sales tool which should be tailored to each individual position that you apply for.
There are three basic parts to a cover letter. In paragraph one, you will state who you are, how you heard about the position, and why you are writing. The goal is to let the reader know that YOU are the one to interview for this position! In paragraph two, you will discuss why you are interested in the position, how your specific qualifications meet the requirements of the position, examples of how your past experience has prepared you for this particular position, and any other relevant skills, achievements, and experiences that make you the best possible candidate for this position. In your third and final paragraph, you will repeat the fact that you are hoping to be considered for the position; in addition, you’ll note specific follow-up plans. Finally, thank the employer for his or her consideration. Close your letter with, “Sincerely” or “Sincerely Yours” and your typed name as well as your signature. Click here for a sample cover letter.
Cover Letter Do’s and Don’ts
…your best to find out the name of the person who will be interviewing you and use their name specifically, rather than writing, “Dear Sir or Madam.” Nobody likes to receive impersonal mail!
…target your cover letter to emphasize exactly what the advertisement or job listing is looking for; give examples of your experience which relate to these tasks.
…use ACTION verbs!
…use simple language and uncomplicated sentence structure; this isn’t a time for creative writing.
…use the same font that you used for your résumé for your cover letter; be consistent.
…carefully proof read your cover letter…better yet, have someone else take a look at it. Your cover letter should not have any errors.
…keep your cover letter brief, just under one page. Your paragraphs should be approximately 2-4 sentences each.
…send a résumé without a cover letter.
…generalize your personal qualities or past job titles. Give specific examples about your skills and experience related to each position.
…talk about how the job will benefit you; right now…it’s how you will benefit the prospective employer.
…include erroneous information or anything that you will not be able to explain or back up in an interview.
…say that you will call back on a certain date if you have no intention of doing do.
…end your letter passively. In other words…don’t write, “I hope to hear from you soon!” Write something action-oriented such as, “I will contact you next week to discuss a convenient time for us to meet.”
…forget to sign your cover letter, preferably in blue ink.
…staple or paper clip your documents together.
…send a generic cover letter to a variety of companies.