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Four Rules of Cover Letter Writing

Here are four key rules of cover letter writing:


Rule #1 - CUSTOMIZE: Make sure you take the time to customize your cover letter to fit the employer's requirements. Before you start the writing process, review the criteria for the position and make a list of what the employer wants. This list might include specific areas of expertise, years of experience, technical knowledge, transferable skills and personality traits. Then, incorporate these items into your letter, demonstrating by example that you have the desired qualifications. (Obviously you'll have to balance space limitations and readability as you go.)

Meet Their Needs

Rule #2 - MEET THEIR NEEDS: Write the cover letter with the employer's needs in mind - not your own. In other words, don't describe what YOU want, but explain what you can do for the employer. Don't assume that the employer will read between the lines of your r�sum� and dig out the relevant information. They won't. To get their attention, you have to actively describe how you can meet their needs.

Actively Sell Yourself

Rule #3 - ACTIVELY SELL YOURSELF: Tell them WHY they should hire you. Be assertive about your qualifications without being egotistical. The tone of your letter should be professional, but sound as if a real person wrote it - in other words, not too pretentious or formal. One way to judge your letter is to read it out loud. Do you trip over the words? Does it sound like an attorney wrote it? If so, work on it until it flows naturally and has a conversational tone.

Keeping It Simple

Rule #4 - KEEP IT SIMPLE: No matter how sophisticated your r�sum� looks, I recommend that you set your letter up in a typewriter typestyle like COURIER or ELITE. Use a simple block format with left flush margins and ragged right margins, since that looks most like a letter typed on a typewriter. Your cover letter will generate a better response if it LOOKS like it was individually typed rather than computer-generated. Most cover letters should be limited to one page, preferably 3-5 paragraphs with 1" margins all around.

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