How to Write a Good Cover Letter: Resume Cover Letter
The cover letter is an individually
typed letter of introduction for yourself that is composed for a
specific company and sent directly to the person who makes
employment decisions. It should motivate the reviewer to read your
resume and invite you for an interview. It should provide an excellent
first impression of you and your ability to communicate through
neatness, and use of correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. The tone
should be warm and conversational, as well as professional. Convey
enthusiasm for the company. Let some of your personality show through.
- DO NOT address your letter "To Whom
it May Concern"
- DO find out the name of the person
who makes hiring decisions and write to her or him
- DO NOT write one general letter and
send it to several companies
- DO compose each letter individually
for each specific job or company
- DO keep it to one page for entry
- DO use the same font and paper you
use for your resume for a professional appearance
If a contact name is not given in the
job listing, or if you are sending an unsolicited, or "prospecting"
letter of application to a company, there are numerous directories and
professional publications in campus libraries, career services offices,
and departments to consult to find the proper person's name. You may
also look the company up in the phone book, and call and ask the
receptionist to whom resumes should be directed. However you do it, GET
A CONTACT NAME AND USE IT.
- When do I use a cover letter?
The resume is NEVER, NEVER mailed to a
prospective employer without an accompanying cover letter. The cover
letter introduces you in writing in your absence. If you were meeting
with a prospective employer in person, at a career fair, for example,
you would NOT use a cover letter, you would introduce yourself and your
qualifications personally. The cover letter should focus the prospective
employer's attention on your pertinent areas of expertise by summarizing
your experience very specifically in relationship to the requirements of
the job for which you are applying.
COVER LETTER CONTENTS
Paragraph 1 - The Opening
Use this paragraph to state why you are writing, and to get the
prospective employer's interest. State:
- The position for which you are
- Your employment objective (the
particular position and/or area)
- Your academic degree level (ex:
Bachelor of Science in Natural Sciences) and, if relevant, your
- How and where you learned of the
position or organization (job ad, referral from a professor, etc.)
Paragraph 2 - The Body
Use this paragraph to justify the prospective employer's interest.
- Briefly describe your educational
and work experience background. Explain how they would make a good
match with the current, ongoing or future needs of that specific
- Relate your skills and
qualifications to the specific job requirements and type of
Use exact wording from the ad whenever
Use examples of your expertise and experience to make your points.
If you are not responding to a specific job ad, you will need to do some
research on the company to write this paragraph most effectively.
Paragraph 3 - The Closing
Use this paragraph to:
- Mention the action that you will
take, for example: you will call soon to arrange an interview.
- Request the action you would like
the employer to take: call you to arrange an interview, send you
additional information, etc.
- Refer the reader to your enclosed
resume or other documentation.
- If you will be in the employer's
area or will be attending a national professional association
meeting the employer is likely to attend in the near future, mention
the particular dates. The employer may appreciate the opportunity to
interview you with little or no expense involved.
- Thank the reader for taking time to
review and consider your materials.
- Indicate your willingness to answer
further questions or provide additional information, and include how
you may be contacted.
EMPLOYER RESPONSE TIME & APPLICANT
Employer response time is usually
between two to four weeks. Applicants who have not heard from an
employer after four weeks should do a follow-up either by mail or
telephone. The follow-up should be directed to the original contact
person and should be low-key. Make sure that the follow-up does NOT come
across to the prospective employer as: "Why haven't I heard from you?"
State the date your original letter was sent and ask if it was received,
restate your interest in the specific company, and ask if any further
information is needed. If a specific application deadline or closing
date was given for a job opening, the prospective employer should be
given four weeks from that date to respond.
Next: Best Cover Letters