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How to Create a Cover Letter: Tips on Creating a Cover Letter

Paragraph construction
  • Never begin a paragraph with “I.”
  • Try to keep sentences under 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.
  • Don’t make your problems someone else’s problems.
Heading
  • Your name, address and phone number should be placed at the top of the letter, each flush left or center.
  • Work number, fax number or e-mail address are optional, but recommended.
  • Example:
      Chris Smith
      178 Green Street
      New York, NY 09998
       
Date
  • The date should appear two lines below the header (and to the left if you have centered your heading).
  • Don’t abbreviate the date.
  • Example:
      July 26, 2007 instead of Jul. 26, 2007 or 07/26/07
The addressee
  • Confirm the spelling of the person’s name and company to whom you are addressing the letter.
  • List the 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.
      123 Software Rd.
      Suite 500
      Anytown, ST 12345
       
Salutation
  • The 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:
      Dear Mr. Smith:
       
First paragraph
  • State your interest and purpose for writing to the company.
  • State why you think you are the best candidate for the position.
  • Reference the name of the publication if you are responding to a classified ad.
  • Reference the name of the person who referred you to the position.
  • 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 the company.
  • Demonstrate your qualifications.
  • Use terms that the employer used 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 percent.
Third paragraph
  • Focus on the company. Show your interest in their products or services.
  • Display enthusiasm for the industry.
  • Refer to other experiences.
  • 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 leader in this fast-growing 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 the letter with a phone call.
  • If you are responding to an advertisement that 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 the closing two lines beneath the body of the letter, flush left.
  • 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: resum�” as your enclosure line.
Formatting
  • Body text should be in a standard font (example: Times New Roman, 12 point).
  • Use italics only to highlight.
  • Do not underline and bold the same text.
Paper and envelopes
  • 20 lb. bond is acceptable for most letters.
  • Paper and envelopes should match resum�.
  • Color should be conservative, such as white or ivory.

 


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