Your Cover Letter Step-by-Step

Heading – “The Right Stuff”

  • Be formal: This part of the letter is standard business etiquette. Check out the examples for content and style. This structure is easy to follow and if you do it right, you’ll make a good impression.
  • Be personal: Address your letter to the person who has the power to hire you. Do a little research and call the company to find out the correct spelling of their name and their title. If that is impossible and you are answering a generic ad, you can use the old standby phrase “Dear Sir or Madam.”

Section I – “Please allow me to introduce myself”

  • Be outgoing: Grab the hiring manager’s attention using a personal contact, a compliment, or specific company knowledge as you express your interest in the job.
  • Use your network: If you have made any personal connections with someone in the company, mention their name as a reference in the first sentence.
  • Research pays off: Show that you’ve done your homework on the company by mentioning something about their product or staff members that you find interesting. If you do this, there’s a good chance they will take notice of you!

Section II – “I’ve got what it takes”

  • Spill the beans: Let them in on the secret of how good you really are. If possible, share impressive statistics with them about your past performance. Feature your skills that match their job description in such a way so that your potential benefit to them is as obvious as the sun in the sky.
  • Be strong: A job-winning combination is your resume and cover letter working in tandem to show your strengths to a potential employer. Use the cover letter to give a personal touch to your writing as you whet their appetite to read the hard facts in your resume. Try not to sound like a broken record by repeating yourself in either document.

Section III – “Let’s Get Together”

  • Be direct: Close the letter by saying that you will call them to arrange a meeting.
  • Follow up: Keep copies of your letters and make a note to call that individual on the day that you specified in the last paragraph of the letter. This simple act of keeping organized distinguishes the serious from the casual job seeker.

Section IV: – “The Finishing Touches”

  • Say thanks: Thank your reader for considering you as a candidate for the position.
  • Your signature: Next you can sign off with “Sincerely,” or “Sincerely yours,” if it is a formal letter. If you know the person fairly well you can sign “Best regards.”
  • Last but not least: In business-speak, the phrase “Enclosure” is commonly used at the bottom of the page to direct the reader’s attention to the next one.

Some More Tips

  1. Be direct. Your cover letter is a great opportunity to let the employer know what you can do for them. Focus your letter on the primary reasons why you are perfect for the job.
  2. Be determined. An outstanding cover letter takes time but the results of your labors will be rewarded with the employer’s interest. Write several drafts, if necessary, to reach the point where you have said everything as smoothly as possible.
  3. Be selfless. Write your letter in a way that shows how you want to benefit the company instead of going on at length about how this job will fulfill your personal goals.
  4. Watch your tone. Be courteous and confident. Don’t hold back on discussing your qualifications, but be aware of bragging or exaggerating. Your respectful tone, self-confidence and positive language will win them over.
  5. Be professional. Type the letter on quality white paper or personal letterhead that matches your resume. You can use your furry friends and butterfly stationary another time.
  6. Be correct. Check your spelling and grammar carefully. If it is possible, ask a friend in the industry to read over your letter before you send it.
  7. Make it short. Keep it under a page but make sure it contains enough information in it so that the reader will be impressed with your writing skills as they consider your resume for the position you have shown interest in.
  8. Be knowledgeable. Read as many sample cover letters as possible for your field to get a handle on the language that will show your knowledge of the industry.
  9. Be discrete. Leave out anything that may create a negative impression of your past work situations.