Some General Tips on Writing a Cover Letter
- Write an individual cover letter for each position for which you are applying. It is all right to use the same basic format for each, but it should be tailored or customized to the position and company for which it is written.
- If possible, the cover letter should coordinate in style with your resume; that is, typed with the same letterhead, font, etc.
- Be careful about using fancy fonts, underlining or shading when faxing. They sometimes make it difficult to read. Arial or Times New Roman, size 12 is recommended.
- Use correct business letter style. Do not be too informal. Also, do not use too many stock phrases, for example, “Enclosed please find…” or “as you can see” because the reader may not be able to “see” the point the way you do.
- Find out who is doing the hiring and address the cover letter to that person. (This is not always possible. Sometimes the only contact information you have is a fax number and/or address.)
- Wherever possible, match your skills with those asked for by the employer in the job posting or job ad/description.
- Be specific in describing your skills. For example, if you state that you are an organized person, back it up with an example of your organizational skills.
- Keep it simple and direct. Brief is better than too long.
- Avoid over-using jargon and technical terms, which the person reading your letter might not understand. It is important to establish your credibility, however the person initially looking at your letter may not be familiar with all the details.
- Do not include negative information, such as the fact that you were fired from your last position. If necessary, this can be explained in the interview. Be positive.
- Refer at some point to your resumé.
- Include a way of reaching you, such as your telephone number.
- Carefully proofread your work and sign it.
- Always have someone whose opinion you trust proofread it for you as well to check for spelling and grammar errors and to be sure the tone of the letter is positive.
Follow-up with Your Job Search
It is important to follow up with the employer unless the job ad indicates, no phone calls please. It is a way of being remembered and not forgotten among the pile of resumes.
- If possible, phone the employer three days to one week after the deadline for the job application.
- Call the day and/or time you indicated on your cover letter. This shows punctuality to the employer.
- Without following up with the employer, the hard work of writing your cover letter and resumé will likely lose its impact.
- If you do obtain an interview, write a thank you letter afterwards.