Writing a Cover Letter - Tips and Templates for a Perfect Cover Letter

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By Andrew Kucehriavy
September 4, 2009 in Resume Writing

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The first rule of thumb for writing an effective cover letter is to find out who will be reading your letter. In order for your cover letter to stand out it needs to be personal and it has to be addressed to the appropriate HR contact in the company. Make sure to find out the person’s name (checkout our "Search for Jobs like a Pro article" for tips and tricks on obtaining this information)


As with any professional letter, make sure to date it, include the name, title, company name, street address, city, state, and zip code of the recipient. Make sure that the recipient’s information is in the top LEFT corner of the cover letter. Don’t forget to include your own contact information either in the header, in the footer, or in the RIGHT top corner (pick one) of the letter. If you put both addresses on the same side, make sure yours comes first.

 
Always address the HR contact by their name:


Dear Mr. LastName,

 

If you are applying for an advertised position start out with an introduction by mentioning where the job was listed and make sure to include the job title. This information will be helpful to the person reading the letter if they have more than one job opening. They are also more likely to make a note of how you found out about the job opening:

 

I am writing in response to your advertisement in [location of advertisement] for a [job title]. After reading your job description, I am confident that my skills and my passion for technology are a perfect match for this position.

 

If, however, you are applying for an unadvertised position, make sure to jump to the point right away, mentioning a job title right for you and listing your qualifications:

 

Are you looking for a [job title] with:

• [Number of years in the field] years of hands-on experience in [area of experience]?
• Knowledge of the latest technology in [industry or field]?
• Excellent written and oral communication skills?
• A passion to learn and to increase his skills?

If so, then you need look no further. You will see from my enclosed resume that I meet all of these qualifications and more
.


Next, make sure to mention your resume is attached by emphasizing your background, your skills and any strengths that would be of interest:


As you’ll see on my enclosed resume, I have the educational background, professional experience, and track record for which you are searching. In addition, I am motivated and enthusiastic, and would appreciate the opportunity to contribute to your firm’s success.


To finish the cover letter it may be a good idea to indicate that you would be available for a job interview. Make sure to provide the recipient with clear instructions on how to best contact you (if there is a preferred time or an alternative phone number, for example):


I would very much like to discuss opportunities with [Company Name]. To schedule an interview, please call me at [your phone number]. The best time to reach me is between [earliest time available] and [latest time available], but you can leave a voice message at any time, and I will return your call.

 

Finish the cover letter with your signature:

Sincerely,


[Your Name]

Enclosure 

 

 

Make sure there are four empty lines between closing and your name for your signature. Sign the letter with a nice pen, preferably black. Include “Enclosure” on the next line from your name to indicate that there is a resume enclosed.

 

Many professional recruiters would also tell you that the choice of paper, formatting and printing method creates an important impression. You can purchase high-quality white paper in any office-supply store. Make sure it feels nice and smooth to the touch, but don’t use anything glossy. Thicker paper stock usually works the best. Also, make sure the cover letter is properly formatted with a traditional font (nothing fancy), size 12 and printed on a nice laser-jet printer.

 

Finally, keep in mind the three most important rules for any cover letter:

  • Personalize it to the person reading it and their company 
  • Keep it short (no more than 3-4 paragraphs or 200-300 words) 
  • Proofread it, proofread it again, and then have someone else proofread it. According to our “What do Employers look for in Resumes?” article, Employers are most likely to throw your resume and cover letter away if it contains misspellings or grammatical errors.
 


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