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Cover Letters

Your cover letter is your introduction to your potential employer.

Many times, it will be the first contact they ever have with you, so use your writing skills to compel the hiring manager to learn more about you by glancing at your resume and hopefully inviting you for an interview.

Like your resume, your cover letter should be tailored to the individual company to which you are applying. This means continuing your research to figure out which words, phrases and ideas will best say what will snag you an interview.

 

BASIC COVER LETTER FORMAT

Salutation

Your cover letter will have three main sections.

Before diving into those, though, it is important to figure out to whom you should send the letter. Many job postings do not have a contact listed, so try do some research to see if you can discern the addressee. LinkedIn might be help to you, but you can always call the company and ask for the name of the hiring manager for the department. Be sure to also ask for the correct spelling of the name and the person’s official title. Be courteous!

If the posting specifies “No Calls,” then you’ll have to do a little bit more digging. If LinkedIn doesn’t come up with anything, try some Google searches through news archives. See if you can find a company directory on the website.

If you know someone who works there, try asking them or set up an informational meeting with someone who works for the company. There are ways, but you’ll have to be creative.

If a diligent search reveals nothing, then you can address the letter to “Hiring Manager” or simply write “To whom it may concern.Once you know the recipient, you can begin working on the introduction, body, and conclusion of the letter.

Introduction

The intro to your cover letter clearly states your reason for writing and must grab the attention of the hiring manager.

Explicitly state what position you’re applying for and consider mentioning an acquaintance or friend who may work there or may have recommended you apply. If you found the posting on a job board, be sure to mention that.

Body

The body is the main portion of the letter where you will describe why you are applying for the position.

Tell the hiring manager why you think you are a good fit for the listed position, but don’t simply retype your resume. By explaining your interest in the job or the organization and showing how your experience fits within the role, you will be able to sell yourself as a prime candidate.

Show them that you are committed to excellence, are inclined to succeed and have proven yourself before. Do not overdo it -- just pick  a few main points and do your best to spin those into saying that you are a top candidate for the position, even against those who might have more qualifications on paper.

Be interesting and share information about yourself that will set you apart, but also be relevant to the job.

Closing

As you wrap up your letter, you’ll want to reiterate your interest in the position and mention when you will make contact regarding an interview.

Include your phone number and email address, which should also be on your letterhead, and thank them for their time.

Conclude your letter with a professional closing, such as “Sincerely” or “Cordially.”

Important Elements

Here is a list of some more important aspects of your letter. Make sure you include all that are relevant.

  • Demonstrate a sincere interest in the organization by showing that you understand their product, mission, vision or values.
  • Address the specific skills or experiences that they mention in the job posting or that you heard about in an informational interview.
  • Be warm, professional and succinct.
  • Do not let a single typo go. The hiring manager will notice..
  • Use action verbs and an active voice whenever possible.Vary the length and structure of your sentences.
  • If you are mailing the letter with your resume, be sure to sign it with ink. Also be sure to print it on resume paper, not standard printer paper.

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