Write a Cover Letter

Here are steps to help you to write a cover letter.

  1. Add a letterhead at the top of the letter. Your letterhead should include your full name, address, telephone number, and email address. Some guidelines to follow when creating your letterhead:
    • Your name should be in bold 14- or 16-point font.
    • Your address and other contact information should be in normal 12-point font.
    • The font of your letterhead does not need to be Arial or Times New Roman, like the rest of your letter, but it should be professional looking and easy to read. The most important thing to remember is to include up-to-date information so that you make it easy for the employer to contact you.
    • You may want to include an extra line under the letterhead to create visual appeal and to separate the letterhead from the rest of the letter.
  1. Write the recipient’s name, address, and the date below the letterhead. It doesn’t matter whether you put the date first or last, or how many blank lines you include between them, as long as it looks professional.
    • From here on out, use 12-point Arial or Times New Roman throughout the entire letter, set your margins to one inch, and use single spacing. Be sure your font is black, and if you’re printing your letter out, use standard-sized paper (8 1/2” by 11”).
  1. Address the recipient. Be sure to refer to the recipient by his or her proper title (Mrs., Mr., Dr., etc.). If you’re not sure who the recipient is, write, “To Whom It May Concern:” or “Dear Sir or Madam”; however, it is always best to address a cover letter to a real person to make it look like you’re not sending form letters.
  2. State your purpose in the first paragraph. Tell the employer why you are writing to them in two or three sentences. State the position for which you are applying (or the one you would like to have should it become available).
    • You don’t necessarily need to include how you became aware of the position unless it was through a mutual contact or recruiting program—in which case you should make the most of the connection.
    • If you are writing a letter of interest (also known as a prospecting or inquiry letter) in which you are asking about positions that might be available, specify why you are interested in working for the employer.
  1. Outline your qualifications in the middle paragraph(s). Make sure to match them to the requirements of the position. If you are writing to inquire about open positions, tell the employer how you can contribute to their bottom line, not what you want to get out of the deal. To do this, use what you have researched about the employer’s background and history.
    • Make your qualifications jump out at the reader by researching the company to which you are applying for a job and tailoring your letter accordingly. This will also be useful if you get an interview. Some questions to keep in mind as you write are
      • What is the employer’s mission? What do they promote as the one thing that sets them apart from their competitors?
      • What kind of customer base does the employer have? Who is their target audience?
      • What is the company’s history? Who founded it? How has the business evolved? What are the main highlights of the company’s performance over the past few years?
  1. Include a positive statement or question in the final paragraph that will motivate the employer to contact you. Make this closing paragraph between two to four sentences. Direct the employer to your enclosed resume and make sure you specify that you’re available for an interview. Finish off by thanking the recruiter for their time and consideration, and welcome them to get in touch with you to continue the conversation.
  1.  “Respectfully,” or “Regards,” leave several spaces, and print your name.
  1. Add your signature. If you will be submitting your cover letter digitally, it’s a good idea to scan and add your signature, write it in with a digital writing pad, or make a digital signature stamp with appropriate software.
  2. Make a notation of the enclosures. If you enclose something, such as a resume, with a letter, you should indicate that the letter contains enclosures by making the notation “Enclosure” or “Enclosures” at the bottom of the letter.

Review Your Cover Letter

  1. Spell-check
  2. Read your letter aloud to hear how it reads.

Checklist for Preparing Your Cover Letter

  1. Double-check some of the most-overlooked basics before you do anything. While misspelling or misidentifying the name of the company you’re applying to isn’t the end of the world, it’s not exactly starting off on the right foot. Double-check the following:
    • The complete name of the company to which you are applying for a job
    • The name of the person to whom you are addressing the cover letter
    • The address of the person to whom you are sending the letter
    • The title of the job for which you are applying and/or its reference number, if it exists

 

  1. Ask yourself what skills do you possess that you are not using enough in your current role. Would the ideal candidate for this new role be required to make more use of those types of skills? What opportunities are missing in your current role? Answering these questions will help you explain why you are interested in leaving current position. For example, are you looking for:
    • “room for advancement”
    • “an opportunity to learn new skills”

 

  1. Hammer down your current job or educational position. This may seem like an obvious question, but knowing how to clearly define your current role is a tremendous asset. For example, you could be a:
    • “graduate student in environmental science”
    • “customer service professional specializing in the high-end retail market”

 

  1. Provide a general description of your accomplishments/experiences in the field to which you are applying. For example, you could have:
    • “fifteen years of excellent customer service experience”
    • “an outstanding background in scientific research and discovery”
    • “a solid history of dependability in the automotive industry”
  1. Identify the assets can you offer to the company to which you are applying. List a few in your cover letter, such as:
    • “extensive experience with start-ups”
    • “demonstrated ability to solve problems”
    • “refined ability to manage teams”
    • What will you help the company accomplish, if given the job you desire?
    • “increase its bottom line”
    • “meet its goal of providing only the best in customer service”
    • “expand its customer base and increase its revenue”
  1. Specify the type of job or level of the position you are seeking. Is it:
    • “entry-level”
    • “management”
    • “senior level”

 

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