About Cover Letters

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A cover letter is a short, professionally written document that is attached to your resume. Some job seekers make the mistake of trying to include everything from their resume in their cover letter when its purpose is to indicate your interest in a specific job, to highlight your qualifications and to provide your contact information to a potential employer.

Significance

  • A cover letter is your first opportunity to make a good impression. It serves as a brief introduction of who you are and why you are contacting the company. Writing a good cover letter could mean the difference between getting the interview you desire and not getting an interview at all.

Type

  • There are two types of cover letters. One is a Letter of Application and the other is a Letter of Inquiry. In a Letter of Application you are applying for specific position for which an ad has been placed or for which you have been referred. A Letter of Inquiry is written when you are seeking information about the company, positions that may be available or when you are proposing a contribution you feel would benefit the company in some way.

Function

  • A cover letter is the front page to your resume and should be attached accordingly. It is used as an overview of why you are interested in working for this company and lets you specifically state the position that you are applying for. A cover letter should demonstrate that you take pride in your work by its professional appearance and style.

Features

  • Your contact information should always be included at the top of your cover letter. Phone number and email address can be included if desired.
    John Doe
    111 Smith Street
    Lubbock, Texas 79604

    Date

    Name of person to contact.

    Exact title of contact
    Company's name
    Company's Street address
    Company's City, State, Zip Code
    It is imperative that you know the name and exact title of the contact person.

    Dear _____
    Always use a formal greeting. Mr., Ms., Miss or Mrs. and the last name.

    The first paragraph lets the employer know why you are writing, which position you are applying for and how you heard about the position. It should be kept short and sweet; no more than two or three sentences.

    The second paragraph is usually the longest paragraph of your cover letter. Here you highlight two or three of your most relevant qualifications and support your claim with specific examples. Make sure the closing sentence of this paragraph brings the employer's focus back to the position to be filled.

    The final paragraph should be no longer than four sentences and is used to refer the employer to your resume, request an interview and inform the employer of your plan to follow up on this application. Don't forget to thank the reader for her time.

    Sincerely,
    Sign your name in black ink after your closing.

    Type your name.

    Enclosure

    This note lets the contact person know that you have included your resume and any requested documents.

The Facts

  • A cover letter should include:
    Highlights of qualifications
    Proof of qualifications by specific examples
    Contact information
    Simple language
    Action verbs
    Neat, professional appearance
    Quality paper that matches your resume paper

    A cover letter should not include:
    Salary requirements
    Unrequested documents
    Spelling errors
    Grammatical errors
    Punctuation errors

  • Photo Credit Photo by Terri Rawls
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