Effective Cover Letter for Jobs
Resumes and cover letters are two powerful tools in the job search
process. They provide an employer with the first impression of you as
an individual and provide an opportunity for you to ‘promote’ yourself
as a candidate. Resumes and cover letters are professional documents
that demonstrate your ability to articulate yourself in a concise
manner. Their purpose is to get you an interview – not a job.
A resume is a formal summary of your education, experiences, and skills.
A personalized cover letter introducing you to the potential employer,
identifying the position you are applying for, and indicating how you
learned of the opening, should accompany every resume. This letter
should briefly provide one or two examples of your experience relevant
to the position, and should convey interest and enthusiasm for the
Cover Letter Construction
While employers allow some freedom in resume construction, cover letters
are usually expected to follow more narrow guidelines. Cover letters not
properly formatted will immediately weaken your candidacy for a
position. Cover letters are usually read after it has been determined
from your resume that you have the minimum qualifications for a
position. They should summarize experiences and skills that are relevant
to the specific position and the organization.
Specific Information to Include in Your Cover Letter
Date: The date should appear at the left-hand side of the
page. Write out the date; do not use abbreviations.
Return Address: Your address should appear two lines below
the date, without your name. You should avoid abbreviations in the
addresses of your cover letters, except for the state.
Addressee: Two lines below the return address, list the
full name of the addressee. On the next line, list the individual’s
formal business title, on the subsequent line, list the name of the
company. This is followed by the company’s address, which generally
takes two lines. Try to find out the name and proper title of the
addressee before you send out a cover letter.
Salutation: The salutation should be typed three lines
beneath the company’s address. It should begin with “Dear
Mr./Ms./Mrs.” followed by the individual’s last name and a comma. Do
not use a first name. If you are not sure, use a safe and general
salutation such as “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Personnel
Manager”. General salutations are stronger choices than “Dear Sir or
Madam” and in any case, avoid using potentially offensive
salutations like “Dear Gentlemen” or “Dear Sirs.”
Body: Should be typed two lines below the salutation.
Should consist of 3-4 paragraphs. See Sample Format.
Closing: Should be typed two lines below the body. Skip
four lines and type your full name. Sign in between the closing and
your printed name.
Enclosure Line: Include an enclosure line to indicate the
documents included with your cover letter.
Points to Consider
Be Brief: A cover letter should never be more than one page long.
Be Powerful: Emphasize your skills by using action-verb phrases
rather than nouns. Give examples of your accomplishments and strengths.
Be Consistent and Logical: Make sure to keep the same format, style
and paper throughout your documents.
Be Conscious of Image: Cover letters should be visually appealing and
should never contain typographical or grammatical errors.
Proofreading and Editing
Have your resume and cover letter critiqued by several people, including
experienced proofreaders. Make the appropriate changes and show them the
revisions. At least three revisions are usually needed to produce a
solid product. The Career Center Staff is an excellent resource for
resume and cover letter reviews.
Do not be afraid to delete unnecessary words, sentences, and
Printing Your Resume and Cover Letter
Your resume and cover letter should be word-processed on white resume
paper available at the CC Bookstore or any office product store. Mail
the resume and cover letter in an 8x11 manila envelope. Unless your
writing is extremely neat and easy to read, type your envelopes. Address
it with the full name and title, to the person you identified in your
cover letter, unless otherwise noted.
Calling to check on your status or to verify that your resume and cover
letter have been received may show the employer that you are motivated
and very interested in the position. However, it is important to make
good decisions concerning the degree of follow up. If, for example, 200
people apply for a position and 25% of them call, that is 50 calls for
an already busy individual! In addition, calling if the employer has
specifically requested no phone calls can be interpreted as not being
able to follow simple instructions. Your best judgment should guide you
on this subject. If you have specific questions about a unique
situation, consult the Career Center staff for advice on how to proceed.