Best Cover Letter Tutorial

Cover Letter Tutorial

  • Employers receive thousands of resumes and cover letters in response to openings
  • The cover letter can be thought of as a sales pitch.
  • Keep it brief - ex: 3 or 4 short paragraphs.
  • the writing must be concise.

General Tips

  • Emphasize the 2 or 3 strongest reasons why you are the best candidate.
  • Do not restate your resume.
  • Draw parallels with previous work experience.
  • Demonstrate interest or knowledge about the firm or industry.

Paragraph Construction

  • Never begin a paragraph with "I".
  • No sentence should be longer than 12 words.
  • Use proper English and avoid slang or abbreviations.
  • Use action verbs such as "designed" or "implemented"
  • Use the active voice whenever possible.
  • Personalize each letter.

Before you begin writing

  • Answer the question "Why should I hire you?"
  • Respond to the need of the company and the person who is hiring for the position.
  • Answer the following questions
    • How do I get my message across?
    • What do I want to communicate to the reader?
  • construct a "grabber" at the beginning and a "closer" at the end.
  • Be honest and factual.
  • Do not make your problems someone else's problems.

Writing the Cover Letter

  • Place at the top and center of the letter.
  • Include name, address, and phone number.
  • Work number, fax or email are optional.

Example: Chris Smith
178 Green Street
New York, NY 09998

Date

  • The date should appear two lines below and to the right of your header.
  • Do not abbreviate the date.

Example: March 4, 1995

The Addressee

  • Confirm the spelling of the person's name and company to whom you are addressing the letter
  • List addressee two lines beneath the date on the left-hand side of the letter.
  • Be sure to include full name starting with Ms. or Mr.
  • Then write in the person's title, company name and address.

Example:
Ms. Joan Jones
Vice-President of Marketing
Norville Software, Inc.
335 Winding Block Road
Suite 500
New York, NY 09998

Salutation

  • Should be typed two lines beneath the company's address.
  • Use a colon instead of a comma at the end of the salutation.
  • Always use "Dear Mr." or "Dear Ms." unless the individual is a friend or relative.

Example: Dear Ms. Jones:

First Paragraph

  • State your interest and purpose for writing to the company.
  • State why you feel you are the best candidate for the position.
  • Reference the name of the publication if you are responding to a classified ad.

Example:
Seeking a new challenge, I was pleased to notice your advertisement for a Senior Product Manager in the May 17th New York Times. Over the last four years, I have consistently delivered new and innovative products to market.

Second Paragraph

  • Use accomplishment statements and link them to the employer's needs.
  • Detail how you can contribute to this company.
  • Demonstrate your qualifications.
  • use terms that the employer uses in the advertisement or that are industry specific.

Example:
As a product manager for Allied Software, I managed three product launches within 12 months. This included organizing and implementing a direct mail campaign, a product tour, and trade show presentations before industry analysts. As a result of these marketing efforts, revenues exceeded goals by 35%.

Third paragraph

  • Focus on the company. Show your interest in their products or services.
  • Display enthusiasm for the industry.

Example:
Your company recently announced plans to move into networking software linking desktop personal computers to mainframe computers. With my success in bringing this type of software to market, I am confident that I can help Norville become a market leader in this fast-growing (about 65% annually) market.

Final paragraph

  • Go for the close by stating your intent to call for an appointment.
  • Take the initiative and state when you will follow up this letter with a phone call.
  • If you are responding to an advertisement which asks for salary requirements, give a range instead of a specific number.

Example:
Recognizing that your schedule must be quite hectic, I will call you on Thursday to see if we can arrange a time to meet. Thank you for your interest in my request.

Closing

  • Place closing two lines beneath the body of the letter right-aligned.
  • Use "Sincerely" as a salutation.
  • Four lines underneath the salutation, type out your full name with middle initial.
  • Sign your name in black ink.
  • Be sure to type "Enc: resume" as your enclosure line.

Formatting

  • Body text should be in a standard font. (Example: Times New Roman 12 point).
  • Headers should use a sans serif font (Example; Helvetica 12 point).
  • Use italics only to highlight.
  • Do not underline and bold the same text.

Example:
You Require _______ I offer

Paper and Envelopes

  • 20 weight bond is acceptable for most letters.
  • Paper and envelopes should match resume.
  • Color should be conservative such as white or ivory.

Printers

  • Laser printing provides high quality output as high as 1200 dpi (dots per inch).
  • Inkjet is an inexpensive solution which provides near laser quality (300dpi).
  • Dot matrix is dated and does not provide adequate quality for a resume.

Editing Tips

  • When printing copies, check print quality for bleed, jagged or crooked edges and overall readability.
  • After running a spell checker, visually edit the cover letter.
  • Then give it to three friends or family members to review and edit.
  • If possible, have a hiring manager who works in your area of interest to review the cover letter for content and structure.

Cover Letter Summary

  • Always mail a cover letter with a resume.
  • The cover letter is a sales pitch.
  • One page maximum.
  • Proof! Proof! Proof!

If a resume appropriately lists your job qualifications, a cover letter serves more as a sales pitch. The reason why stating your intention to apply for a job (in a cover letter) is important, is because you are demonstrating your skills and qualification for being considered as the perfect match for the position.

Employers receive heaps of resumes to review for any given job advertised and, out of those, they may select only a few candidates to finally interview. A powerful, well-written cover letter can often make the difference between getting called for an interview and getting passed over.

Here’s what you should do to get your cover letter noticed.

Don’t Write an Autobiography

Thousands of job seekers make the mistake of drafting the cover letter as a lengthy autobiography. The cover letter format is not exactly the occasion to summarize your background; you have already done that in your resume. To ask the employer to read the same thing twice would be a waste of a recruiter’s time. And it probably would land your resume and cover letter in the wastebasket.

List the Best of your Accomplishments

In a cover letter, job candidates must find a way to stand apart from the rest of the job seekers. The perfect way to do this is to highlight one or two of your accomplishments capabilities. You want to show you are an above-average candidate for the advertised position.

Highlighting one or two of your unique qualities will pique the interest of the employer. Once you get to the interview stage, you can elaborate on the rest of your accomplishments and abilities.

If you are not sure what differentiates you from other job seekers, find out! Make note of the areas in which you excel. Maybe you are creative or good at math or a computer whiz. Whatever your particular strengths are, focus on them in your cover letter.

Show Interest in the Employer

Let the employer know that you have consumed time to understand and research the company. By saying something profound in your cover letter about the company or its products, services, and philosophy, you show that you are genuinely interested in the job and the company.

Employers can spot an applicant who is blindly sending out hundreds of resume cover letters with generic cover letters. The ideal cover letter should be precise and personal. Each letter should be addressed to a specific person at a company.

Use this Cover-Letter Formula

Writing a good cover letter isn’t that difficult, once you know the formula. Here are the steps to follow when it’s time to write yours:

  • Use a standard business letter format. The employer’s name and title and the company name and address should appear on the top left.
  • Address the cover letter directly to a real person. Take time to find out who the hiring person is. If you are writing to a woman, use “Ms.,” even if you know her marital status.
  • The beginning paragraph should answering this question: “Why are you writing?” Make sure, you want to talk about how you can meet the company’s needs, not about your own needs.
  • In the second paragraph, you should briefly state one or two of your important qualifications that pertain to the specific position. These should be immediately followed by the benefits that these qualities (and you as a person) will provide to the company.
  • The third paragraph should sound like closing a deal. In closing the sale, you should request (not demand) the employer’s consideration.

Cover-Letter Checklist

When you’re done with writing your cover letter, mark the following checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything:

  • Is your cover letter no longer that one page?
  • Does your letter include three paragraphs focused on the employer’s needs, not on yours?
  • Does your letter look professional enough to make an impression. It must also typed single-spaced, with proper punctuation and grammar.
  • Is your letter addressed to a particular person?
  • Does your letter contain the company’s complete name and address?
  • Did you close with the word “Sincerely” (anything else may be too personal)?

Final Thoughts

If you wait for the employer to call you, your odds of contact decrease drastically. It usually takes a proactive approach on your part to move the process to the next level, the interview.

If you make the effort to contact the employer, you will get a response. Persistence is good, but make sure you don’t push too hard and become annoying. Also, avoid calling if the ad specifically mentions a no phone call policy. Hundreds of other candidates may be trying for the same position, so be the one who leaves an impact with your perfectly written cover letter by following these useful steps.

Cover Letter Samples and Writing Guide – Resumegenius.com

How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job – writing.wisc.edu

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