Cover Letter Tips Writing

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This entry is aimed as a top to bottom checklist of How To Write A Cover Letter. If read from top to bottom, you should end up with a great Cover Letter! I suggest that you should print this entry out, and tick each item off as you go down the list.

Background:

  • Employers receive thousands of resumes and cover letters in response to openings
  • Around 30% of applications do not include a Cover Letter - they are instantly rejected
  • The cover letter can be thought of as a sales pitch

General Tips:

  • Before writing your Cover Letter, read the job advert
  • Emphasize the 2 or 3 strongest reasons why you are the best candidate
  • Keep it brief - one page, 3 or 4 short paragraphs so you need to be concise
  • Do not restate your CV/Resume
  • Draw parallels with previous work experience
  • Demonstrate interest or knowledge about the firm or industry
  • If in doubt, formalise and never personalise
  • Focus each Cover Letter on each application - and no generic copies!
  • If you are responding to an advertisement which asks for salary requirements, give a range instead of a specific number

Before you begin writing:

  • Be honest with yourself - do you have the required skills?
  • Answer the question Why should I hire you?
  • Respond to the need of the company and the person who is hiring for the position
  • Construct a grabber at the beginning and a closer at the end
  • Be honest and factual
  • Do not make your problems someone elses problems - nothing personal

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

Writing the Cover Letter:

  • Include your name, address, and phone number
  • Never use a child/kid-fun or adult/sexual related personal eMail address - if in doubt, get a free new eMail address which is simply your name
  • Never include your work telephone number
  • Never abreviate the date

The Addressee:

  • Unless instructed by the job adverts, never ever write an application to an unknown addressee. If in doubt, go up the management chain
  • Confirm the spelling of the persons name and company to whom you are addressing the letter
  • Be sure to include full name starting with Ms. or Mr.
  • Write in the persons title, company name and address.

Salutation:

  • Always use Dear Mr. or Dear Ms. - even if the person is a relative or family friend

Header Line:

  • Centered, bold, underlined
  • State the purpose of your corresponding - Application for XYZ Job
  • If necessary, reference the name of the publication if you are responding to a classified advert

First Paragraph:

  • I suggest you use a power opening sentence. After seeing it 50+ times, I am writing or You work for a great company that Id like to work for doesnt grab attention
  • State why you feel you are the best candidate for the position

Second Paragraph:

  • Use accomplishment statements and link them to the employers 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
  • This paragraph is often best address by use of bullet points

Third paragraph:

  • Focus on the company. Show your interest in their products or services
  • Show you have undertaken some research on them by quoting or paraphrasing a recent announcement
  • 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:

  • Like every good sales and marketing letter, you need to make a call to action
  • This can be as stronger as stating your intent to call for an appointment to arrange an interview
  • Take the initiative and state when you will follow up this Cover 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

Closing:

  • Always use Sincerely as the salutation
  • Insert your full name with middle initial
  • Sign your name in black ink
  • Ensure you type Enc: resume as your enclosure line.

Formatting:

  • The body text should be in a standard font. If in doubt, use Times New Roman 12 point
  • No need for italics
  • The only section which needs to be bold and underlined is the Header Line!
  • You can optionally bold certain key skills BUT for executive jobs it looks amateurish

Paper, Envelopes and Printing:

  • Unless you are applying for an artistic post, the colour chosen should be conservative such as white or ivory
  • Dont use copier paper! Use something with a weight of around 28Lbs US or 100g/m2 European
  • The paper and envelopes should match the paper used for the CV/Resume
  • Use either Laser or Inkject printing.Dot matrix is dated and does not provide adequate quality for a CV/Resume
  • When printing copies, check print quality for bleed, jagged or crooked edges and overall readability

Editing and Posting:

  • After running a spell checker, visually edit the cover letter
  • Then give it to three friends or family members to review and edit
  • If in doubt, proof read it again
  • Send in your application at least three days before the closing date
  • Never use recorded delivery or Fedex - there is no need

Tags: #cover letter