Cover Letter Writing

Do’s and Don’ts

  • A cover letter typically accompanies each resume you send out. Your cover letter may make the difference between obtaining a job interview and having your resume ignored, so, it makes good sense to devote the necessary time and effort to writing effective cover letters.
  • A cover letter should complement, not duplicate your resume. Its purpose is to interpret the data-oriented, factual resume and add a personal touch. A cover letter is often your earliest written contact with a potential employer, creating a critical first impression
  • Get right to the point and write short, targeted letters. Each letter should be one page, or less. Each paragraph should contain three or four sentences, at most.
  • If you can, address it to the individual responsible for hiring. If need be, research online or make a phone call to find out who the hiring manager is.
  • Take the job posting and list the criteria the employer is looking for. Then list the skills and experience you have. Either address how your skills match the job in paragraph form or list the criteria and your qualifications.
  • Always write the cover letter in your own words.
  • If you can, address it to the individual responsible for hiring. If need be, research online or make a phone call to find out who the hiring manager is.
  • You are not creating a flyer or a poster. So use a business font such as Arial.
  • Your Resume’s focus should be on how you meet an employer’s needs, not on your life story. Avoid the perception of being self-centered by minimizing your use of the word “I,” especially at the beginning of your sentences.
  • Just like the resume, it should be compelling and give the main reasons why you should be called for an interview. Winning cover letter strategies include emphasizing your top accomplishments
  • Do not use colors. Black on white reproduces easily. Use a plain white paper. No deckled finishes or colors either.
  • Your cover letter must be perfection itself. A typo, a poor printing job, a misspelling – mistakes will make a poor impression
  • Your cover letter must be perfectly centered.
  • Print your cover letter and resume on a laser printer. DeskJet printer ink smudges.
  • Your cover letter should be one page in length and perfectly centered.
  • The cover letter and resume are never folded. They are placed in an envelope large enough to accommodate them unfolded.
  • If your cover letter is only one or two short paragraphs, it probably doesn’t contain enough key information to sell you effectively. If it exceeds one page, you may be putting readers to sleep. Keep it concise but compelling, and be respectful of readers’ time.
  • If you’re replying to an advertised opening, reference the specific job title in your cover letter.
  • Make sure all the content in your letter supports how you will meet the specific needs of the employer.
  • Your cover letter should thank the reader for his time and consideration.
  • It is proper business etiquette (and shows attention to detail) to sign your letter. However, if you are sending your cover letter and resume via email or the Web, a signature isn’t necessary.

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