One of the most important things you can do to make your job search successful is learn how to write a cover letter. A cover letter accompanies your resume when you send it to a company to request a job interview.
According to the online writing lab at Purdue University, an effective cover letter consists of four main sections. Read on to find out what they are and what information your cover letter should include in each section.
The Cover Letter’s Heading
Your contact information goes at the top of the page and is followed by the addressee’s information, separated by three blank lines. If you are contacting a company in response to a job ad, often the ad will tell you to whom you should address your cover letter. If the job ad does not include specific contact information, or if you are approaching a company without the benefit of a job ad, you can usually find out how to address your cover letter by visiting the company’s website or by calling its human resources department.
The Cover Letter’s Introduction
Start the body of your cover letter with a greeting to the reader. If you do not know a specific contact person’s name, greet the reader with “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Company XYZ Human Resources Manager.”
The University of Wisconsin at Madison’s Writing Center recommends that your first paragraph should clearly explain why you are writing to the company. If you’ve seen an open position advertised, or if you’ve heard about an opening from a contact within the company, state this information early in your letter. Your introduction section should also indicate something about yourself that qualifies you for a position within the company. Do you have many years of experience or an advanced degree in the industry? Was your last position similar to the one for which you are applying? These facts explain your motivation for applying for a job with the company.
The Cover Letter’s Argument
Use your resume to help you compose your cover letter’s argument section and convince the reader that you would be an asset to his company. In this section, your tone should be personable yet firm and confident about your best qualifications. You should not simply restate the information that is on your resume. Instead, pick a few of your resume’s finer points and use them to “argue” that you have the most important skills and experiences necessary to excel at the job for which you are applying.
The Cover Letter’s Closing
In closing your cover letter, convey a sense of action. Virginia Tech’s Career Services department suggests writing that you will contact the employer in two weeks to follow up on your letter. In addition, you may want to re-emphasize your most applicable qualification for the job, and invite your reader to refer to your resume for more details. Before signing off, you will want to thank your reader for considering you for the position.
“Cover Letters.” The Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2010. .
“Cover letters.” Career Services at Virginia Tech Career Services | Virginia Tech . N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2010. .
“Purdue Online Writing Lab.” Purdue OWL. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2010.