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Basic Contents Of A Cover Letter

Quick Content Tips for Cover Letters

Summary:

This page provides a down-and-dirty guide to writing cover letters. Here you will find brief answers and lists of what you should include in a cover letter, how to order and format such a letter, and what to do before sending it out.

Contributors:Angie Olson, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2010-04-25 08:55:59

If you want a short guide to writing cover letters, this is it! Be sure to examine the "Quick Formatting Tips for Cover Letters" for helpful information about your cover letter's page design. Please refer to the more in-depth cover letter handouts and the cover letter online workshop for explanations and more ideas.

There are four basic parts to a cover letter: heading, introduction, argument/body, and a closing. Here are some tips on what to include in each section:

Heading

  • Provide your contact information.
  • Include the date you are writing the letter.
  • Include the address of the company.

Introduction

  • Greet the specific person with whom you are corresponding.
  • State the position you are applying for and where you heard about it.
  • Name drop if you have a good connection.
  • State why you believe you are a good match for the position and the organization, including 2-3 key qualifications that you will address in the rest of the letter (these items should match up with your resume).

Argument/Body

  • Tailor cover letter for each job application.
  • Focus each paragraph on one qualification that shows you are a good match for the job and organization.
  • Give specific examples to prove where you got these skills and how you have used them before.
  • Tell a story; do not just list your skills.
  • Refer to your resume; do not repeat it.
  • Do not use contractions.

Closing

  • Close with a strong reminder of why you are a good match for the job and the organization.
  • Request an interview in some way.
  • Provide contact information.
  • Thank the person for reading your material.
  • Sign your name and print it underneath.

Cover letter format and content advice tips

Wondering how to write a cover letter? Make sure you can answer “yes” to the questions on this checklist.

Many job seekers struggle with how to write a cover letter, as well as cover letter format, but this skill can be learned and perfected. The time and effort will pay off, because a great cover letter can increase your odds of getting a job interview.

These cover letter tips can help your job application standout. Make sure you can answer “yes” to the questions on this checklist:

Introduction

  • Does your cover letter have a strong opening paragraph, communicating your job target and key strengths within the first few lines of text?
  • Does your cover letter conform to a standard business letter format? (See our cover letter examples.)
  • Is your cover letter addressed to a specific individual, if the name is available?

The body

  • Does the body of your cover letter express how you would benefit the employer if you were hired?
  • Do you avoid starting every sentence with “I” or “my” so you can focus more on the employer’s requirements and not your own?
  • Do you demonstrate your expertise by using industry-specific language?
  • Do you include examples of your accomplishments so employers can see you have a proven track record?
  • Is the content engaging and relevant to hiring managers’ needs?
  • Is the cover letter succinct, containing just enough information to entice the reader to review your resume?
  • Did you include all information that was requested, such as a job reference number, employment availability date and salary requirements?
  • Is the content unique? Did you avoid copying text from your resume verbatim?
  • Does your cover letter sound genuine? Does it reflect your personality and make you seem likeable and approachable?
  • Did you proofread your cover letter to ensure that it’s free of spelling, grammar, syntax and formatting errors?
  • Does the writing style and design coordinate with the resume, such as by using the same font and layout style?

Closing paragraph

  • Did you provide an easy way for employers to contact you, such as a direct phone line and email address?
  • Does your cover letter end with a call to action, confidently requesting an interview?
  • Did you remember to sign your letter if you’re mailing a hard copy?

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