Quick and simple: Seven tips for writing a superior cover letter
Writing an effective cover letter can be a challenge for many people, but anyone can quickly compose a great cover letter in an hour. Louise M. Kursmark, in her new book Same-Day Resume, offers seven quick tips for writing a superior cover letter.
1. “Write to someone in particular: Try never to send a cover letter to ‘To whom it may concern’ or use some other impersonal opening. We all get enough junk mail and email. If you don’t send your letter to someone by name, it will be treated like junk mail.”
2. “Make absolutely no errors: One way to offend people quickly is to misspell their names or use incorrect titles. If you have any question, call to verify the correct spelling of the name and other details before you send the letter. Also, review your letters carefully to be sure that they contain no typographical, grammatical or other errors.”
3. “Personalize your content: If you can’t personalize your letter in some way, don’t send it….Those computer-generated letters that automatically insert a name never fool anyone.”
4. “Present a good appearance: Your contacts with prospective employers should always be professional. If you are sending cover letters and resumes by mail, print them on good-quality stationery and use matching envelopes. Follow a standard format for a business letter.
“If sending your letter by email, use a descriptive subject line that helps readers identify your email. Create—and always use—a standard signature that includes your contact information. Even people who know you well might not have your phone number and email address handy, so make it easy on them by providing it every time you write.”
5. “Provide a friendly opening: Begin your letter with a reminder of any prior contacts and the reason for your correspondence now.”
6. “Target your skills and experiences: To do this well, you must know something about the organization, the person you’re writing to or the job you are writing about. Present any relevant background information that might be of particular interest.”
7. “Close with an action statement: Don’t close your letter without clearly identifying what you will do next. I do not recommend that you leave it up to the employer to contact you because that doesn’t guarantee a response. Close on a positive note, and let the employer know you will make further contact.”