Writers Workshop: Writer Resources
Writing Tips: Cover Letters
Below are some tips for writing effective cover letters:
- Address your letter to the person with the authority to hire you. If necessary, call and ask the receptionist.
- Use a traditional business letter format and professional tone. Don't try to be cute or use big words and empty phrases.
- Use appropriate terminology for the field/position. You must learn the language of the area if you want to convince an employer that you are ready to work in that area.
- Highlight your most important points by placing them at the beginning of your middle paragraphs.
- Keep your letter to one page; the reader is busy.
- Write your letter from the employer's point of view. In other words, explain what you can contribute, not what you hope to gain. "Contribution" and "success" are magic words.
- Send the letter so it will be received on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Monday is the busiest mail day and Fridays are used to wrap up business before the weekend.
- Write a new cover letter for each job.
- Be honest. Remember that the employer will expect to interview the person portrayed in the letter.
- Be self-confident but don't brag. Don't be apologetic or negative. Don't mention negative aspects of your resume.
- Uses specifics to back up your statements. Emphasize the most significant aspects of your resume but don't simply repeat it.
- Use the job notice or description as a source of the employer's needs and desires. Pick out key terms and phrases.
- If you think of a way to get the reader's attention, do it. Use a quote or statistic, praise the employer, mention a referral.