Tips to Writing a Cover Letter
General Tips as you Start
Finding employment is, in large part, a function of effective communication. The success of your job search will hinge on your ability to present yourself professionally and demonstrate your value as a prospective employee. You must convince employers that you have something to offer if you are to receive further consideration. Employers are seeking to hire persons whose interests and abilities most closely match requirements of the job. A good fit between an individual's personality, values and philosophy and the organization's culture is also highly desirable.
Producing a Professional Letter
Just as with your resume, your letters should be error free and visually appealing. Although you may be able to send the same resume to a variety of different organizations, each letter you send should be carefully tailored to the situation and the employer being addressed. Never send a form letter.
Employers will view your letter as an indication of your written communication skills, so keep it formal, businesslike, and concise. One page should be sufficient and it should be in print that is sharp and easy to read. Do not use unusual fonts.
Whenever possible, address your letter to a specific person. This may require you to call the organization and ask to whom you should address your cover letter. Last, but not least, proofread carefully. Typos, spelling, grammatical or punctuation errors will prevent you from receiving serious consideration.
- Write to a specific person.
- Present your message clearly, concisely, and honestly with consideration for your reader. Desirable length is usually one page.
- Give specific and pertinent information relative to the position you seek. Generalities are not only confusing, but they imply you are trying to conceal a weakness. Include enough facts to be convincing.
- Be yourself and be positive. Personnel executives easily recognize letters copied from textbooks, written by employment agencies, or sent out in mass.
- Make the appearance attractive. Use a standard business letter format and 8 1/2 x 11" bond paper. White, ivory, and light gray colors are desirable. Type the letter with proper margins, indentation and spacing.
- Proofread your letter. Is it interesting and persuasive? Does it include important aspects of your college experience, a bit of your personality, and all pertinent qualifications and skills? Are the punctuation, grammar, and spelling correct?
- Drop off a draft, or make an appointment with a Career Development staff member for an objective critique of your letter.