Writing a cover letter

To be considered for almost any position, you will need to write a letter of application. Such a letter introduces you, explains your purpose for writing, highlights a few of your experiences or skills, and requests an opportunity to meet personally with the potential employer.

What is a cover letter

Precisely because this letter is your introduction to an employer and because first impressions count, you should take great care to write an impressive and effective letter. Remember that the letter not only tells of your accomplishments but also reveals how effectively you can communicate.


What to include in a cover letter

Try to limit your letter to a single page. Be succinct.

Assess the employer's needs and your skills. Then try to match them in the letter in a way that will appeal to the employer's self-interest.

As much as possible, tailor your letter to each job opportunity. Demonstrate, if possible, some knowledge of the organization to which you are applying.

Write in a style that is mature but clear; avoid long and intricate sentences and paragraphs; avoid jargon. Use action verbs and the active voice; convey confidence, optimism, and enthusiasm coupled with respect and professionalism.

Show some personality, but avoid hard-sell, gimmicky, or unorthodox letters. Start fast; attract interest immediately.

Questions to guide your writing

Who is my audience?

What is my objective?

What are the objectives and needs of my audience?

How can I best express my objective in relationship to my audience's objectives and needs?

What specific benefits can I offer to my audience and how can I best express them?

What opening sentence and paragraph will grab the attention of my audience in a positive manner and invite them to read further?

How can I maintain and heighten the interest and desire of the reader throughout the letter?

What evidence can I present of my value to my audience?

If a resume is enclosed with the letter, how can I best make the letter advertise the resume?

What closing sentence or paragraph will best assure the reader of my capabilities and persuade him or her to contact me for further information?

Is the letter my best professional effort?

Have I spent sufficient time drafting, revising, and proofreading the letter?

How to format your letter

Whenever possible, address each employer by name and title.

Each letter should be grammatically correct, properly punctuated, and perfectly spelled. It also should be immaculately clean and free of errors. Proofread carefully!

Use conventional business correspondence form. If you are not certain of how to do this, ask for us for help