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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


  • 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.

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


  • 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.


  • 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.

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.


  • 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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