The cover letter should be:
- Concise; usually no more than one page long.
- Tailored to the needs of each prospective employer.
- Addressed to a specific person or contact in the company.
- Formatted as a business letter (see example below). Full left alignment looks sharp.
100 Bluegrass Road
Knoxville, TN 37966
Ms. Terri Bigboss
Senior Staff Recruiter
Acme Widgets, Inc.
Building 4, Suite 223
Anytown, New Jersey 05867
September 28, 2000
Dear Ms. Roberts:
State reason for letter, name the position or type of work you are applying for, and identify the source from which you learned of the opening (i.e.: career development center, newspaper, employment service, web advertisement, personal contact).
Paragraph Two and maybe Three
Tell why you are interested in the position, the company, its products and services. Above all, stress what you can do for the employer. If you are a recent graduate, explain how your academic background makes you a qualified candidate for the position. If you have practical work experience, point out specific achievements or unique qualifications, even though these will also appear in your resume. In the cover letter, your discussion of these things will allow the reader not only to get a quick, efficient view of your major selling points; it will also allow the reader to sense your tone and personality. Don’t, however, go on at too great a length here. After pointing out your highlights–the things about you that most qualify you for the [job, internship, scholarship, prize money, etc.]–refer the reader to your enclosed resume or application, which summarizes your qualifications, training, and experiences.
This paragraph, or perhaps these two paragraphs, are very important. Here is where you’ll use your powers of rhetoric most profoundly. This is the place where you must bring your experience, education, and personality to life and convince the reader that you are the hand that will fit into the glove of the job (or whatever) that you’re applying for.
Paragraph Three or Four
Request a personal interview and indicate your flexibility as to the time and place . Repeat your phone number in the letter and offer assistance to help in a speedy response. For example, state that you will be in the city where the company is located on a certain date and would like to set up an interview. Or, state that you will call on a certain date to set up an interview. End the letter by thanking the employer for taking the time to consider your application.
- Pay attention to detail. Make sure the letter contains no errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation. Spell the recipient’s name, and the name of the company, correctly.
- Don’t use gimmicks such as off-sized or colored paper. Use good-quality, white bond paper.
- Research the company. Relate what you have to say about yourself to the needs of the company.
- Use appropriate language by repeating terms the employer used in the advertisement.
- Don’t exaggerate, brag, lie, or beg.