Equal Employment Opportunity Organization (EEOO)
What is a Cover Letter?
Whenever a resume is sent by mail, a cover letter must accompany it. The cover letter is your opportunity to make an immediate good impression of yourself, much as you would if you walked into the room for an interview nicely dressed, confident, and poised. It is a chance to set yourself apart from the other applicants -- it's your first opportunity to sell yourself.
What goes into a Cover Letter?
The basic content of a cover letter includes the same basics as any business letter, plus other specifics such as:
- Your name and address (unless it is already in your personal letterhead)
- The date
- The name, company and address to whom you are sending your resume
- A salutation
- An opening paragraph explaining why you are writing
- A middle paragraph(s) highlighting why you are an outstanding applicant
- A closing paragraph requesting an interview
- A closing, such as "Sincerely" or "Yours Truly," with your signature
It sounds easy, but there's got to be some tricks ...
Not tricks, but there certainly are some tips. Here are a few basic ones and links to lots more:
Cover letters should be individualized and written for the specific organization and/or position. Do not write one cover letter and send it to everyone.
Cover letters should highlight your special qualifications and talents. Don't copy an example you find in an-ebook for instance, or online on a web-site, instead use those examples to give you some thoughts and ideas for your job resume cover letter.
It should go without saying, resume cover letters should be perfect! No more than you would walk into an interview with a run in your stockings or a gravy stain on your tie; should you send a cover letter (or your resume, for that matter) with spelling errors, typos or poor grammar. Do not count solely on your computer's spell check. Carefully proof read it and then have someone you trust proof read it.
Be clear and concise in your writing. Watch out for those clunky, "governmentese" phrases. Government doesn't use them any more and no one else should either. Avoid phrases such as:
- "I am writing at this time ..." What other time is there to write?
- "I am anxiously awaiting your reply." Anxiously means nervously; don't you really mean eagerly?
- "Owing to the fact ..." Since is cleaner, clearer and more concise.
- "This is the subject which ..." Try using this subject.
- "There is no doubt but that ..." Instead write doubtless or no doubt.
Keep your cover letter to one-page.
Put yourself in your reader's place. What will make them sit up and take notice. Are you a problem solver? How can you contribute to their organization? What is really special about you that is going to help them?