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Cover Letter Advice and Guide

Personalize the letter. Whenever possible, address your cover letter to the individual responsible for filling the position. A generic salutation sends the message that you are unfamiliar with the company/employer.

Be natural. Use simple, uncomplicated language and sentence structure. Don’t try to sound like someone else; rather, write as you would speak. Say things in a simple, straightforward way, and use action verbs to create dynamic sentences.

Be specific and get to the point. Your cover letter must be intriguing enough to get the reader to look at the resum�, but should be only an introduction to the resum�, not a repeat of it. Make sure you answer the question, “Why should I hire this person?”

Be positive. Don’t complain about your boss or describe your present or previous work experience as “boring.” Nobody wants to hire someone with a bad attitude. Above all, don’t sound like you are begging for a job.

Be confident, but not arrogant. Don’t be negative or too humble. Tell them you are qualified for the job, but don’t demand it. Don’t profess to know more about the company/employer than you really do. Explain why you find the company/employer attractive and leave it at that.

Be polite and professional. You may be a comedian with your friends, but a potential employer should be treated with respect.

Be efficient. Don’t waste space on unnecessary details. Respect the employer’s time. Make sure every sentence has something to do with explaining your interest in the company, illustrating how you will fill the company’s needs, and how you will contact the company in the near future.

Type your letter. Make sure you change all customized statements if using a similar letter to be sent to numerous companies/employers. Carefully read each letter before you sign it.

Be available. Remember to tell the employer how to reach you. Give a phone number that will be reliably answered by either a person or an answering machine. If possible, include an e-mail address. Don’t leave the ball in the employer’s court. Indicate what response you expect from your letter and how you will follow up.

Proofread. Check carefully for grammar and spelling mistakes, and then check again. Typos and grammatical errors say a lot about the kind of work you do. Don’t depend entirely on the spell-check function of your word processor.

Sign it. If you forget this, the employer may feel like you sent a form letter.


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