A cover letter is written to a
prospective employer in order to: highlight the experiences you
have which are relevant to the employer’s needs and suggest ways your
skills might be used in that setting. It also serves as an
introduction of your resume and is a tangible sample of the quality
of your work. The role of the letter is to interest the reader in
interviewing you for a position based on your qualifications to do the
Write a letter that demands
an effective cover letter is a developmental process and should not be
viewed as a quick, one-time activity. The main function of a cover
letter is to create enough interest to make the employer read your
resume. Remember, you are selling yourself and your letter is part of
your marketing campaign. Prepare your letter with that in mind or your
resume may never be read.
You will distinguish yourself
from most other applicants if your write a cover letter which
demonstrates that you have carefully researched the organization you are
writing and presents you as a person who is thorough and clear about how
your skills fit the goals of that setting. Sending a tailored letter to
the specific individual who has the authority to hire increases your
appeal and decreases the likelihood that you will receive a standard
form letter in reply.
The contents include at least
three topics: why you’re writing, why the reader will be interested in
you, and what will happen as a result of the letter. Report to the
reader how you became interested in writing. For example:
I read an article
about your company’s expansion in the Austin American Statesman …
Annette Wurk, a
former associate of yours, told me that you have responsibilities for
employee development in your firm. I am interested in this area …
I am researching
publishers and have identified your company as a leader in the industry.
I would like to tell you my credentials and my interests in editing …
I am interested in
applying my education to the problems of the garment industry. I
understand that you are responsible for product development …
Suggest why the reader should be interested in
you. Refer to your resume when appropriate, but don’t restate it in full
detail. For example:
I expect that such
a major expansion requires much organization and planning. I would
consider that an interesting challenge …
I took several
management courses as electives and did an extensive term project on
employee motivation …
As you can see
from my resume, I have worked with student publications in high school
and college …
I have a major in
chemistry with several electives in clothing and textile design and
construction. I have also had sales experience working with men’s
Be specific about what happens next in the
process. The more conventional approach to let the reader initiate the
contact. For example:
If you are
staffing for this expansion effort, I would appreciate the opportunity
to interview with you. Thank you for your consideration …
I would like to
have the opportunity to interview with you to discuss employment in
these areas. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest
convenience. I can be reached …
Leaving the response up to the reader also means
waiting on him/her. You retain more control on the job-hunting when you
specify how you will recontact the reader. For example:
I plan to be in
your area at the end of the month. I will call the week before I leave
(date) to discuss interviewing with you.
I will phone you
next week so that we can schedule an appointment at your convenience.
Thank you for your consideration of my letter and resume.
Remember: the more
preparation you do before you mail your cover letter, the more prepared
to do the work you will be to the reader.
BASIC RULES FOR GOOD COVER LETTERS
Type each letter individually; on paper that matches your resume
in color and weight. Develop a basic letter that can be changed
slightly. It is essential, however, to type each one. Mass produced
letters are not recommended.
Address each employer by name and title. If necessary, call the
company for this information.
Open your letter with a strong sentence that would make you take
your feet off the desk if you were sitting in the employer’s chair.
Devote the center of your letter to brief facts about your
experience and accomplishments that will arouse the employers’
curiosity. Use facts to direct attentions to your resume.
Appeal to the self interest of the person to whom you are
writing. Include clues that indicate that hiring you will lead to higher
production, greater efficiency, reduced waste, better sales, etc. That
is, things that will help solve the employer’s problems.
Whenever possible, bid directly for an interview and indicated
that you will call to arrange a suitable time.
KEY POINTS OF A COVER LETTER
State, Zip Code
State, Zip Code
PARAGRAPH – Tell why
you are writing, name the position for which you are applying, and tell
how you heard of the opening.
PARAGRAPH – Refer to
the attached resume, which gives a summary of your qualifications that
illustrate your training, interests and experience. If you have had
experience, be sure to point out what particular achievements you have
accomplished in this field or type of work that is relevant to the
company or position.
– State why you are interested in working for this employer, and specify
your interests in this type of work.
PARAGRAPH – Say you
want an interview. Have an appropriate closing to pave the way for the
interview by enclosing a return envelope, by asking for an application
blank, by giving your phone number, or by offering some similar
suggestion for an immediate and favorable action. Or, you may say you
will call them to arrange an interview appointment.