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Writing an Effective Cover Letter
Download 'Writing an Effective Cover Letter'
(Adobe Acrobat .pdf file 987KB)

Cover Letter Samples:
Cover Letter Sample 1         (Adobe Acrobat .pdf file 13KB)

Introduction

Many job seekers make the crucial mistake of underestimating the value of cover letters. Too often they put a lot of time and energy into creating an amazing resume only to neglect their cover letter and sabotage their chances of obtaining an interview. Cover letters are your introduction to employers and provide the first impression they get of you. As such, they can make or break your chances of getting an interview. Furthermore, cover letters do what resumes can't. They allow you to explain why you want to work for the employer, they give you the chance to display enthusiasm for the position, and they can summarize why the employer should hire you. Don't waste your chance to stand out from the competition by writing an average cover letter. This packet will help you write an extraordinary cover letter that will help set you apart from the competition.


Goals of A Cover Letter

Introduce Yourself to the Employer and Initiate a Personal Relationship

Good cover letters peak employers' interest in your talents and make them want to meet you. They have a “human” touch that allows the reader to relate to you as an individual. This is done by addressing the cover letter to a specific person, being polite, and by presenting yourself in a way that is meaningful to a potential employer.

Show enthusiasm for the organization and the position

Employers want to hire someone who has a passion for their organization and the position available. Displaying enthusiasm will put you ahead of other candidates.

Demonstrate you have the ability to write well and articulate yourself in a concise manor

A well written cover letter shows you have good communication skills and can write effectively. Take the time to write a letter that demonstrates your full ability.

Summarize your skills and talents

An excellent cover letter will give an overview of your talents and tells the employer what makes you special. Your resume will then provide proof of your claims by outlining specific accomplishments.

Explain why the employer should hire you

This is the most important function of a cover letter. By explaining how your skills will benefit the employer, you are demonstrating what value and potential you can add to the organization.

Getting the Correct Information

In order to write a good cover letter it is imperative that you do the necessary ground work. All the goals listed above can only be achieved if you have good information about the employer and the job vacancy. This means that you need to research each employer to whom you will be sending a cover letter. You should find out:

•  What skills the job requires.

•  What responsibilities the position has.

•  What the employer values in their employees.

•  What purpose the organization serves.

•  What goals the organization has.

•  What goals the organization has for the position you are interested in obtaining.

•  What makes the company unique or special.

Once you have done your research, you should answer these personal questions.

•  Why do you want that particular position?

•  Why do you want to work for that particular organization?

If you are able to do the appropriate research and answer these questions, you will be able to write an extraordinary cover letter.


Cover Letter Construction

Return Address

  • Positioned at the top left hand side of the page. Do not include your name.

 Date

  • The date should be at the left hand side of the page two lines below the return address. Do not use abbreviations.

Addressee

  • Positioned two lines below the date. List the addressee's full name, title, organization and address.

Salutation

  • Positioned three lines below the addressee. Use Mr./Ms./Mrs./Dr., followed by the individual's last name and a colon. Do not use first names.

Opening Paragraph

  • Explain why you are writing and where you heard about the position.
  • Give the reader specific reasons for your interest in the position and the employer. Remember to display enthusiasm.
  • State why you are the best candidate for the position.

Second and Sometimes Third Paragraph/s

  • Outline how your qualifications and experiences will benefit the employer and will fit that particular job.
  • Highlight achievements and accomplishments. Give examples.
  • Address how your skills and expertise relate to the employer's needs.
  • Refer to your resume.
  • Tie the accomplishments on your resume together. DON'T just repeat items on your resume.

Closing Paragraph

  • Bring the letter to a positive close by providing a succinct conclusion indicating that you are a good match for the position and that you have a sincere desire to work for the organization.
  • Indicate your desire for an interview.
  • Indicate that you will follow up with the employer if appropriate.
  • Thank the reader for their time.
  • Close with “Sincerely".

Cover Letter Suggestions

Tailor Your Cover Letter For Each Employer and Situation

Generic letters do not work. In most cases employers can tell right away if you have not given any thought to their organization. Furthermore, generic letters will not allow you to stand out from the competition.

Address Your Letter to an Individual

It may take some extra effort to find the name of the person who will be reading your application. However, addressing your letter to a person is much more effective and will start you on your way to establishing a personal relationship with the reader.

Keep Your Letter to One Page

Most employers do not have time to read a long letter. You should keep your letter to a single page.

Highlight Your Resume, Do Not Repeat

Use your cover letter to summarize your skills and talents, and to tie all of your qualifications together. Highlight themes that will benefit the employer.

Give Examples

Give examples of accomplishments that have broad occupational and organizational implications. Remember, you are summarizing your talents here. Let your resume show off your more specific accomplishments.

Proofread and Edit

Cover letters are supposed to be your best effort and will reflect your ability to communicate. Take the time to proofread and edit your product. Make sure your letter is critiqued by at least two other people who are good at proofreading and editing. At least three revisions are usually needed to produce a solid cover letter.

  Go to Writing an Effective Resume -->

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