How to write a cover letter

With graduation peeking its head around the corner, many of my fellow classmates of the Graduating Class of 2008 will be thrust into the real world to fend for ourselves. With millions of opportunities at our feet we will be battling one another for that perfect job. But how do you stand out from one Public Relations student to the next? Well it all begins with the cover letter.

Cover letters should be no more than 3-4 paragraphs. With employers looking at 50-100 cover letters they must be well written, concise, and tell the employer who you are and why YOU are perfect for this position.

Purpose of a Cover Letter

There are specific reasons for including a cover letter when submitting a résumé to a prospective employer. These include:

  1. Identifying your reason for writing the employer
  2. Linking major job requirements with your related past performance and experience
  3. Demonstrating what you can do for the employer

Craft your letters to reflect what is appropriate for your audience and respond to the specific requirements of the position.

Characteristics of a Strong Cover Letter

  • Addressed to a specific individual and position
  • Verified correct spelling of recipient’s name and title
  • Organized and visually pleasing
  • Clear and concise in articulation of skills and interests
  • Correct grammar and spelling
  • Presented on high quality paper/envelope
  • Ideally one page

Components of a Cover Letter

  • Top of Page
    • Date
    • Salutation (Dear Mr. Jones)
    • Your Contact Information
  • Introductory Paragraph (about you)
    • Specify why you are writing
    • Identify the individual(s) who referred you
    • Pay a compliment (perhaps they spoke in class)
    • Make a connection between you and the reader identify with the values and mission of the organization
    • Do research about the organization
  • Body of Letter (About Me)
    • Do some personal marketing – elaborate on your strengths as they relate to the employer’s needs
    • Be honest – provide specific examples that demonstrate your knowledge and experience
    • Refer to your enclosed résumé
    • Wrap-up by identifying your potential contributions to the organization
  • Conclusion (About We)
    • Reiterate your interest in the position and the organization
    • Suggest an action plan – request an interview
    • Identify the next step – your plans or your request for them
    • Indicate you will call during a specific time period
    • Provide additional contact information
    • Express your sincere appreciation and enthusiasm

    Here are a few examples and more focused cover letters.

Good Luck!

photo : the trial

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~ by stacianne on February 14, 2008.

4 Responses to “How to write a cover letter”

  1. Just to add on…

    At the University of Oregon, there’s a really helpful class to take for anyone not confident in writing cover letters. The class is CPSY 408 and it’s taught my Mya O’Neil. The entire class is design to help students prepare for making the transition from college to career. Topics covered in class are: cover letters, mock-interviews, tips on how to use the career center, resumes and multicultural issues in the work place. I’m sure other Universities have a class familiar to this one as well. I found it be very helpful and would encourage anyone to check it out.

  2. Thanks for the resource Joey. Many schools at the University of Oregon have specific classes developed around cover letters, resumes, and how to interview. J399 is the course in the Journalism and Communication School. They even match you up with professionals in your field to conduct informational interviews. This is a great stepping stone and tool to take advantage of while still in school!

  3. […] a cover letter if I have an outstanding resume? Seth Godin explains why it is important to attach a cover letter with your resume. Why not have a cover letter? A resume consists of short but sweet bullet points […]

  4. […] a cover letter if I have an outstanding resume? Seth Godin explains why it is important to attach a cover letter with your resume. Why not have a cover letter? A resume consists of short but sweet bullet points […]

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