How to Write a Cover Letter
A cover letter has 3 purposes:
- It formally introduces you, and can personalize the presentation of your resume
- It highlights specific information from your resume and from your background that applies to a specific field or position. Can also give reader insight to items not addressed in a resume
- It helps to facilitate a meeting between you and the employer
Cover letter allows you to personalize your resume when it is mailed to
prospective employers in response to advertisements or to inquire about
possible interviews. The cover letter's main purpose is to advertise your strengths
and assets in a way that would interest employers in interviewing you. It is
also useful in that it can save valuable time by enabling you to visit only the
most promising prospects or helping you avoid places where there is no interest
in you as a prospective employee.
To attract the reader's ATTENTION, the cover letter must look good and be
easy to read. Use of quality 8 1/2" X 11" paper, correct English, spelling,
spacing, paragraphing, margins and above all, flawless typing is a must.
Address it to a particular person by name, making sure that the spelling and
title of the individual are correct. The person addressed should hold an
influential position in the company. A good cover letter is not too long, so
try to limit yours to only part of a single page.
The first paragraph should arouse the reader's INTEREST. This can be done
by stating some particular knowledge you have of the reader's business, by a
comment on some "timely" issue relating to the company's operation or by an
impersonal statement of some outstanding fact relating to your ability that
would probably appeal to the employer.
The body of the cover letter should make the employer DESIRE to interview
you by explaining what you can do for his/her company. Put yourself in the
employer's position as you write and present facts that will both be
interesting and accurately describe your assets and qualifications. Your
prospective employer will be interested in your ability to make and/or save
money, to conserve time, to effectively assume and discharge responsibility and
to produce results more rapidly and economically than anyone else. Do not
stress your bad points, such as lack of experience or unemployment.
The last paragraph should request ACTION. Ask directly for an interview
stating specific times and dates when you will call to arrange an interview.
In all circumstances be courteous but use a direct approach.
The letter should end with the formal salutation, "Sincerely yours."
Below the salutation, type your name and then add your signature. Remember the
use of AIDA (ATTENTION, INTEREST, DESIRE, ACTION) will result in a cover letter
that is both pleasing to read and effective.
Sample Cover Letter Outline
City, State, Zip
(Ms. or Mr.) I.M. Hiring
Name of Company
City, State, Zip
Dear (Ms. or Mr.) Hiring:
Your opening paragraph should arouse interest on the part of the reader.
Tell the employer why you are writing the letter. Do not say in the first
paragraph that you are looking for a job. Give information to show your
specific interest in the company.
Your middle paragraphs should create desire. Give details of
your background that will show the reader why one should consider you
as a candidate. Be as specific as possible about the kind of a job
you want. Don't make the reader try to guess what you would be
Refer the reader to your general qualifications on your enclosed resume or
other material. Use as much space as you need to tell your story but keep it
brief and to the point.
In your closing paragraph you ask for action. Ask for an appointment
suggesting a time when you will contact the individual. You may now list your
dates of availability.
Type your name here
Sample Cover Letter
349 Adams Street
Newton, MA 02160
January 19, 1994
Dr. Melvin W. Simms
P.O. Box 746
Boston, MA 02117
Dear Dr. Simms:
I am presently a Cooperative Education student in the Northeastern University
College of Computer Science. I have had experiences in programming in Pascal,
FORTRAN, "C" language and am familiar with the DEC-VAX System. As a native of
Japan, I know that my language skills would prove useful to your company. I
would be most interested in obtaining a cooperative education assignment with
Northeastern University for the summer and fall 1994.
I am currently completing a course in computer electronics and am working on a
project revising a system for radio communications. Additionally, I am working
at a local Radio Shack franchise selling electronic equipment. As you can see,
my course work and experience would be appropriate in your environment.
My resume is enclosed for your review and consideration. I will telephone you
during the week of June 3rd to discuss the possibility of setting up an
interview. I will be available for full-time cooperative education employment
from June 25, 1994 through December 31, 1994.
I look forward to speaking with you soon.