Tips on How to Write a Perfect Cover Letter for a Job

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Cover Letter Tips

Appearance

Each letter should be printed on plain paper with a matching envelope. If you are enclosing a resume, the letter and resume should be on matching bond paper. Type size should be 10-12 point.

In this electronic age, you can also write your letter within a Word document, and email it. But all the same tips apply, in terms of form, style, content etc.

Your letter should contain NO ERRORS: no typos, no misspelled words, no grammatical errors, period.

Form


Letters should be short -- no more than one page, with generous margins. Paragraphs should be limited to 4-8 lines whenever possible. The first line of each paragraph should clearly state the message of the paragraph.

Use the standard business format, with your address and the date at the top and the addressee's name and address on the left just above the salutation. Your full name should be typed at the bottom under your signature. Don't forget to sign your letters and keep a copy for your files.

Letters should ALWAYS be addressed to an individual by name, with her correct title and address. If you don't know this information, call the company and ask for it. Titles should also be used in the salutation as appropriate, "Dear Dr. Carley", "Dear Ms. Smith." First names should not be used unless you are personally acquainted with the addressee.

Style


Clarity. Impact. Information. Individuality. Your letters should express these four elements and show that you are a "fit" with the organisation. Simple direct sentences are preferable. And remember that each letter is a sample of your writing style.


TYPES OF LETTERS

  • Career Exploration Letters
  • Employment Inquiry Letters
  • Cover Letters
  • Thank You Letters
  • Letters of Acceptance/Refusal
  • Withdrawal Letters
  • Follow-up Letters
  • Samples

 

Career Exploration Letters

When asking for an informational interview, engage your reader! You are asking them to give up time in their busy schedule to talk to you. Your letter should give enough information about you and why you selected the addressee to make him want to meet with you.

Paragraph 1: 
Describe who you are and why you want to speak to them. Request an opportunity to meet. Keep it to 3 or 4 lines.

Paragraph 2: 
Describe your interest in the field or company. State what you want to learn in the informational interview. Describe any background reading or research you have done.

Paragraph 3: 
Talk about yourself. Highlight your relevant experience. BE BRIEF! You should enclose a resume to communicate your background as well.

Closing paragraph: 
Be specific about the next step. State when you are available for an interview and that you will call within a week to arrange a mutually convenient time.

Employment Inquiry Letters

If you have identified a specific organisation for which you would like to work, you may want to meet with someone who has a position similar to what you are seeking, or with the department head that has the power to hire you. This letter is similar to a career exploration letter. You are not asking for a job but for advice and very specific, applicable information.


Cover Letters


What is a Cover Letter?

It is a way to introduce yourself to a potential employer. Never send a resume alone when you are applying for a job. Use your cover letter to describe your qualifications, motivation, and interest in the job so that the employer will want to interview you. Do NOT repeat the information already listed in your resume; rather, you want to translate those experiences into the skills honed, knowledge gained, and questions raised that are relevant to the particular job.

Cover Letter Writing Tips

  1. Cover letters usually have three parts:
  2. Paragraph 1: Identify what job are you applying for, how you heard about the opening; and why you are interested. 

    Paragraphs 2 and 3: Discuss your qualifications for the job and your interest in the organization.
  • Use one or two accomplishments to illustrate the skills and experience you bring to the job.
  • Do not make evaluative statements, such as "I believe I am an outstanding candidate." Your job is to present your qualifications; the employer will evaluate them.
  • Communicate your interest! Express enthusiasm for their product line or services, or mention a recent news item that concerns them.
  • Order these statements based on the message you want to convey and what you consider most important.
  • Closing paragraph: Express your interest in meeting with the employer to discuss the requirements of the job and your qualifications.
  • Know as much as you can about the industry, company and position to which you are applying. This will show your interest, as well as enable you to articulate why you belong there.
  • Be clear and concise. A cover letter should be one page long. Ask yourself the point of each statement that you make. Does it add to what the reader needs to know? If a cover letter is too long, an employer may not read it.
  •  

     Thank You Letters

     Always write thank you letters to everyone you meet with, within 24 hours of meeting. After a job interview use this letter to reinforce your qualifications and how they relate to the job requirements. After an informational interview, use the letter as a gesture of thanks for the person's input and a door left open for future contact. 


    Letters of Acceptance/Refusal

    This is a formal way to accept or decline a job offer. In declining an offer, you want to express your appreciation for the offer and thank the employer for their consideration. Your objective is to reject the offer, but maintain a relationship with the employer. 


    Withdrawal Letters

    Once you accept a job offer, you should inform other employers to whom you've applied that you are withdrawing your application. It is appropriate to tell them what position you have accepted, but do not say it is a better job! You might be interested in working for any one of them at a later time in your career.


    Follow-up Letters

    There are a variety of times during your job search when you might want to write a follow-up letter:
    • To reinforce the first letter of any type, if you have not received any response.
    • To add new information to an employment application.
    • To request reconsideration after being rejected for a job interview.
    • To communicate a continued interest in a job or in being interviewed, when the search process is protracted.
    • To report progress---for example, to update a member of your network or to report to an adviser on action taken on his advice or referrals.

     

    Courtesy of Harvard University's Office of Career Services

     

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