How to Create a Cover Letter: Tips on Creating a Cover Letter
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Before you begin writing
- Never begin a paragraph with “I.”
- Try to keep sentences under 12 words.
- Use proper English and avoid slang or abbreviations.
- Use action verbs such as “designed” or “implemented.”
- Use the active voice whenever possible.
- Personalize each letter.
- Answer the question, “Why should I hire you?”
- Respond to the need of the company and the person who is
hiring for the position.
- Answer the following questions:
- How do I get my message across?
- What do I want to communicate to the reader?
- Construct a “grabber” at the beginning and a “closer” at the
- Be honest and factual.
- Don’t make your problems someone else’s problems.
- Your name, address and phone number should be placed at the
top of the letter, each flush left or center.
- Work number, fax number or e-mail address are optional, but
178 Green Street
New York, NY 09998
- The date should appear two lines below the header (and to
the left if you have centered your heading).
- Don’t abbreviate the date.
July 26, 2007 instead of Jul. 26, 2007 or 07/26/07
- Confirm the spelling of the person’s name and company to
whom you are addressing the letter.
- List the addressee two lines beneath the date on the
left-hand side of the letter.
- Be sure to include full name starting with Ms. or Mr.
- Then write in the person’s title, company name and address.
Ms. Joan Jones
Vice President of Marketing
Norville Software, Inc.
123 Software Rd.
Anytown, ST 12345
- The salutation should be typed two lines beneath the
- Use a colon instead of a comma at the end of the salutation.
- Always use “Dear Mr.” or “Dear Ms.” unless the individual is
a friend or relative.
Dear Ms. Jones:
Dear Mr. Smith:
- State your interest and purpose for writing to the company.
- State why you think you are the best candidate for the
- Reference the name of the publication if you are responding
to a classified ad.
- Reference the name of the person who referred you to the
Seeking a new challenge, I was pleased to notice your
advertisement for a Senior Product Manager in the May 17th
New York Times. Over the last four years, I have
consistently delivered new and innovative products to
- Use accomplishment statements and link them to the
- Detail how you can contribute to the company.
- Demonstrate your qualifications.
- Use terms that the employer used in the advertisement or
that are industry specific.
As a product manager for Allied Software, I managed three
product launches within 12 months. This included organizing
and implementing a direct mail campaign, a product tour, and
trade show presentations before industry analysts. As a
result of these marketing efforts, revenues exceeded goals
by 35 percent.
- Focus on the company. Show your interest in their products
- Display enthusiasm for the industry.
- Refer to other experiences.
Your company recently announced plans to move into
networking software linking desktop personal computers to
mainframe computers. With my success in bringing this type
of software to market, I am confident that I can help
Norville become a leader in this fast-growing market.
- Go for the close by stating your intent to call for an
- Take the initiative and state when you will follow up the
letter with a phone call.
- If you are responding to an advertisement that asks for
salary requirements, give a range instead of a specific number.
Recognizing that your schedule must be quite hectic, I will
call you on Thursday to see if we can arrange a time to
meet. Thank you for your interest in my request.
- Place the closing two lines beneath the body of the letter,
- Use “Sincerely” as a salutation.
- Four lines underneath the salutation, type out your full
name with middle initial.
- Sign your name in black ink.
- Be sure to type “Enc: resumé” as your enclosure line.
Paper and envelopes
- Body text should be in a standard font (example: Times New
Roman, 12 point).
- Use italics only to highlight.
- Do not underline and bold the same text.
- 20 lb. bond is acceptable for most letters.
- Paper and envelopes should match resumé.
- Color should be conservative, such as white or ivory.