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Cover Letter Tutorial

Cover Letter Tutorial

  • Employers receive thousands of resumes and cover letters in response to openings
  • The cover letter can be thought of as a sales pitch.
  • Keep it brief - ex: 3 or 4 short paragraphs.
  • the writing must be concise.

General Tips

  • Emphasize the 2 or 3 strongest reasons why you are the best candidate.
  • Do not restate your resume.
  • Draw parallels with previous work experience.
  • Demonstrate interest or knowledge about the firm or industry.

Paragraph Construction

  • Never begin a paragraph with "I".
  • No sentence should be longer than 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.

Before you begin writing

  • 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 end.
  • Be honest and factual.
  • Do not make your problems someone else's problems.

Writing the Cover Letter

  • Place at the top and center of the letter.
  • Include name, address, and phone number.
  • Work number, fax or email are optional.

Example: Chris Smith
178 Green Street
New York, NY 09998

Date

  • The date should appear two lines below and to the right of your header.
  • Do not abbreviate the date.

Example: March 4, 1995

The Addressee

  • Confirm the spelling of the person's name and company to whom you are addressing the letter
  • List 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.

Example:
Ms. Joan Jones
Vice-President of Marketing
Norville Software, Inc.
335 Winding Block Road
Suite 500
New York, NY 09998

Salutation

  • Should be typed two lines beneath the company's address.
  • 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.

Example: Dear Ms. Jones:

First Paragraph

  • State your interest and purpose for writing to the company.
  • State why you feel you are the best candidate for the position.
  • Reference the name of the publication if you are responding to a classified ad.

Example:
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 market.

Second Paragraph

  • Use accomplishment statements and link them to the employer's needs.
  • Detail how you can contribute to this company.
  • Demonstrate your qualifications.
  • use terms that the employer uses in the advertisement or that are industry specific.

Example:
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%.

Third paragraph

  • Focus on the company. Show your interest in their products or services.
  • Display enthusiasm for the industry.

Example:
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 market leader in this fast-growing (about 65% annually) market.

Final paragraph

  • Go for the close by stating your intent to call for an appointment.
  • Take the initiative and state when you will follow up this letter with a phone call.
  • If you are responding to an advertisement which asks for salary requirements, give a range instead of a specific number.

Example:
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.

Closing

  • Place closing two lines beneath the body of the letter right-aligned.
  • 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: resume" as your enclosure line.

Formatting

  • Body text should be in a standard font. (Example: Times New Roman 12 point).
  • Headers should use a sans serif font (Example; Helvetica 12 point).
  • Use italics only to highlight.
  • Do not underline and bold the same text.

Example:
You Require _______ I offer

Paper and Envelopes

  • 20 weight bond is acceptable for most letters.
  • Paper and envelopes should match resume.
  • Color should be conservative such as white or ivory.

Printers

  • Laser printing provides high quality output as high as 1200 dpi (dots per inch).
  • Inkjet is an inexpensive solution which provides near laser quality (300dpi).
  • Dot matrix is dated and does not provide adequate quality for a resume.

Editing Tips

  • When printing copies, check print quality for bleed, jagged or crooked edges and overall readability.
  • After running a spell checker, visually edit the cover letter.
  • Then give it to three friends or family members to review and edit.
  • If possible, have a hiring manager who works in your area of interest to review the cover letter for content and structure.

Cover Letter Summary

  • Always mail a cover letter with a resume.
  • The cover letter is a sales pitch.
  • One page maximum.
  • Proof! Proof! Proof!

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