The cover letter provides you with the opportunity to tailor your résumé by telling the prospective employer how you can be a benefit to the organization. It allows you to highlight aspects of your background that are not already discussed in your résumé and that might be especially relevant to the
organization you are contacting or to the position you are seeking. Every résumé should have a cover letter enclosed when you send it out. Unlike the résumé, which may be mass-produced, a cover letter is most effective when it is individually prepared and focused on the particular requirements of the organization in question.
A good cover letter should supplement the résumé and motivate the reader to review the résumé. The format shown in Exhibit 2.3 is only a suggestion to help you decide what information to include in a cover letter.
Begin the cover letter with your street address six lines down from the top. Leave three to five lines between the date and the name of the person to whom you are addressing the cover letter. Make sure you leave one blank line between the salutation and the body of the letter and between paragraphs.
After typing “Sincerely,” leave four blank lines and type your name. This should leave plenty of room for your signature.
The following guidelines will help you write good cover letters:
- Be sure to type your letter neatly; ensure there are no misspellings.
- Avoid unusual typefaces, such as script.
- Address the letter to an individual, using the person’s name and title. To obtain this information, call the company. If answering a blind newspaper advertisement, address the letter “To Whom It May Concern” or omit the salutation.
- Be sure your cover letter directly indicates the position you are applying for and tells why you are qualified to fill it.
- Send the original letter, not a photocopy, with your résumé. Keep a copy for your records.
- Make your cover letter no more than one page.
- Include a phone number where you can be reached.
- Avoid trite language and have someone read the letter over to react to its tone, content, and mechanics.
- For your own information, record the date you send out each letter and résumé.