Proper Way to Write a Cover Letter
An effective cover letter may be the catalyst to your new career, assuming it captures the attention of a hiring manager and encourages the right person to examine you resume. Deciding what to include can seem daunting, but when you know the basic parts of a cover letter, you can create a document that gets your foot in the proverbial door.
Cover letters should always be in standard business format, which means it should either be printed on your own letterhead or typed with your address block at the top of the page, aligned to the left. Enter the date of the letter on a single line. Next, type the address block of the person to whom you are sending the letter. Include the recipient’s first and last name, the company name and the complete business address with city and state.
Greeting and Opening Lines
As you are using business letter format, your salutation should follow suit. Use the proper title and last name of the person who will receive the letter, if possible, and end the greeting with a colon, such as “Dear Ms. Young:” or “Dear Dr. Meyers:”. Contact the business to find out the person’s name and title if it is not specified in the job posting. If you are still unable to determine the recipient’s name, use a polite but general salutation, such as “Dear Sir: or Madam:.”
The first paragraph of the cover letter should inform the recipient that you are applying for the position, mention how you learned about the job and touch upon why you are an ideal candidate. In the middle paragraphs, provide details of specific skills, education and experience that match the job description and help you stand out above other candidates. List examples of past successes that pertain to the position, such as, “As HR Manager for XYZ Widgets, I integrated a background check system that saved the company $12,000.”
Final Paragraph and Closing
Conclude the letter by reiterating your interest in the position and requesting a face-to-face interview. Mention that you will follow up by telephone on a specific date, or ask the recipient to call you at your provided phone number. Extend your thanks for the recipient’s time and consideration. Offer a polite closing, such as, “Yours Truly,” or Sincerely,” and type your full name.