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Resume Cover Letter

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Cover Letter Rules

When writing cover or thank you letters, refer to the examples on the following pages and keep the following tips in mind:

  • Be concise -- limit the body of your letter to approximately three paragraphs.
  • Left justification is recommended over full justification (margins lined up on both sides) because it is easier to read.
  • Quantify and qualify whenever feasible.
  • Always address your letter to a specific person. If no person is available, address letter as Dear Department + Position. (i.e. Dear Human Resources Director:)
  • Center the letter vertically on the page.
  • Provide ample margins and white space.
  • Avoid starting the letter and every paragraph with the word "I."
  • Use perfect grammar and spelling.
  • Have a friend proofread for you.
  • Convey a personal warmth that is missing from the resume.
  • Use action verbs instead of flowery phrases to describe yourself.
  • Emphasize your functional skills.
  • Be bold, convincing, and assertive.
  • Use bond paper and a laser printer for a professional look.
  • Don't forget to sign the letter!

Appearance

  • Individualized: Address the letter to an individual rather than to Dear Sir/Madam whenever possible. This is important for follow-up. You should follow up your letter with a phone call to confirm that it arrived and to demonstrate continued interest. It shows you have focus and a sincere interest.
  • Paragraphs: Be brief; keep them short enough to encourage reading.
  • Paper: Use high-quality bond paper with matching envelopes.
  • Print: Type or laser-print your letter using block or semi-block letter styles. The page should be well-balanced.

Style

  • Sentences: Be clear and concise. Always consider your audience; it is best not to try to be clever or cute, but you may choose to be creative, depending on the type of employer to whom you wish to appeal. Use correct grammar, punctuation and spelling. Try to persuade the employer to look at your resume and to grant you an interview. The letter should expand upon the resume and add personal flavor.
  • Language: Be specific. Indicate a special reason for wanting to work for the employer. Use key action-oriented words, be conversational, make every word count. Avoid trite language and jargon.
  • Tone: Be sincere. Give the impression of self-confidence, but not conceit. Highlight your most significant accomplishments to attract further interest.
  • Proofread: Have a professional career/placement counselor and/or people you know critique the letter. Pay close attention to details.

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