Cover Letter Tips

Read these 14 Cover Letter Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Career tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What does a good cover letter look like?

Good Cover Letter Example

Use this sample cover letter to help you with ideas for your own.

February 20, 2006
Mr. Robert Bigbucks, Regional Hiring Director
Big Time Corporation
52 Pickup Avenue
Jobtown, New York 12345

Mr. Bigbucks,

I am responding to your ad in the Journal of Sales and Marketing for the Regional Director of Sales position. You will find that my background and experience is an excellent match for this position.

As Director of Sales for Acme Widget Company, I managed a staff of 50 sales professionals. During my five year tenure at Acme, I have increased the sales of widgets and widget peripherals by over 20% each year. This was the direct result of innovations in customer contact, service improvements, and staff adjustments that I made.

In researching Big Time Corporation, I have found that you have a higher than average sales force turnover, and also that you are using an older customer service contact and data base system. I have some ideas on how both of these things could be quickly and inexpensively improved.

In addition to the experience indicated on my résumé, I have also served as the Fund Drive Volunteer Coordinator for Wilshire Academy, a small private school in my town. Through my direct efforts, Wilshire Academy has been able to meet its funding goals for the past six consecutive years. Wilshire has awarded me the Meritorious Service award for each of those years in recognition of this achievement.

I would be very happy to discuss my experience and credentials with you, and show you how I can put my skills to work for the benefit of Big Time Corporation. I know that Big Time is right for me, and I would love the opportunity to prove that I am right for Big Time.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or to schedule an interview at your convenience. I can be reached at (555) 555-5555, anytime, or via email at johnd@doe.net. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely, John Doe

   
Can I include experiences in my cover letter that are not on my resume?

Cover Letter - Non-paid Experience

If you are changing careers or are a new college grad, you may lack official work experience in the field you are trying to break into. Use your cover letter to highlight coursework, internships, or years of amateur experience. If you have held volunteer positions or have participated in relevant hobbies, include them in your cover letter as well.

   
Should I say what I´m earning?

Listing Your Income

If your resume is going to a search firm that needs to know your current salary, be honest and thorough.

Include your base salary plus any bonuses and other compansation. If your last bonus was less than usual, then state what your usual bonus is. Your bonus potential is not relevant. Keep the bonus information to that which you have already received.

   
Why do cover letters need to be tailored to each employer?

Tailored Cover Letters

Although you can feel free to use the same resume for each job you apply for, it is important to tailor your cover letter for each specific job. By taking the extra time to highlight your experience as it relates to each employer's needs, you'll show that you are focusing on that position. You'll come across as someone who is serious about the company instead of someone who is mass-mailing resumes.

   
What should my cover letter say?

Mind the Details

Don't rely on your word processor's spell-check feature to correct typos in your cover letter. A computer won't be able to catch misused words such as "there" and "their."

To make sure your cover letter is perfect, proofread it personally and then hand it to someone you trust to proofread. Your attention to detail will make you look more professional to a potential employer.

   
What should the cover letter tell the employer?

Cover Letter Content

Think of your cover letter as a personal marketing brochure. It should tell the employer who you are, what position you are applying for, and why you are the only person who can help them fulfill their company goals.

Make your cover letter stand out by choosing one or two relevant items from your resume and showing how they apply to the job opening.

   
What should my cover letter say?

Cover Letters to Companies

Keep your cover letter short for easy skimming. Avoid restating the information in your resume, but feel free to concisely expand on any information that is particularly relevant to the position.

If you are answering an ad, address the requirements in the ad and speak to how your experience relates to each requirement.

If you are sending the letter cold, make sure your letter reflects some research on the company, how your background relates, and why you have an interest in that company.

   
What should my cover letter say?

Be Specific

Avoid vague descriptions in your cover letter. Instead of saying that the position is the "right opportunity" for you, explain why it is the right opportunity.

Does the size of the company appeal to you? Is there a particular aspect of the company that your skills have prepared you to handle? What are the reasons you picked this company to apply for?

   
What does a cover letter look like?

Cover Letter Format

Format your cover letter like any other business letter. Include the date, your name, address, email address and phone number. Also include the employer's name and address. Begin with a traditional business salutation.

A cover letter should be, minimally, three paragraphs: an introduction, the body, and a conclusion. Keep the paragraphs concise for easy skimming. Close the letter with a polite "sincerely" and your signature.

   
As a mother returning to the workforce, should I include a cover letter?

Career Change Cover Letter

If you are changing careers or returning to work after raising children, use your cover letter to discuss your transferable skills.

Transferable skills are those skills that you have acquired through previous experience that relate to the new job. Negotiation, time and money management, computer skills and leadership skills are all transferable among a broad range of professions.

   
Do I need a cover letter if I'm only looking for entry-level work?

Cover Letters on Job Boards

Hundreds of people apply for jobs through online job banks on a daily basis. Make sure you stand out from the crowd by customizing your cover letter so that it is specific to the company and the position you're applying for.

If you are unable to find the name of the hiring manager to put on your cover letter even after you call the company to ask, use "Dear Recruiter." Make an extra effort to demonstrate your research into the company.

   
How do I conclude my cover letter?

Cover Letter Conclusion

Conclude your cover letter with thanks for the opportunity to be considered and with a request for an interview. It is appropriate to mention that you will call them for an interview appointment, but make sure that you aren't coming across as too aggressive. Be bold, but not pushy.

   
Is it okay to address a cover letter "Dear Sir or Madam?”

Send Your Cover Letter to the Right Person

Show your interest in a company by personalizing your cover letter with the name of the hiring manager. If specific contact information is not included on the job posting, use the company's Web site, the library, or the Chamber of Commerce to discover who is in charge of hiring. You can also call the company and ask them for a name and correct spelling to put on your cover letter. If all of these methods fail, write "Dear Hiring Manager."

   
What does a bad cover letter look like?

Bad Cover Letter Example

The following is an example of a poorly crafted cover letter. It could be improved if the applicant used a more formal tone, researched the name of the person to be contacted, and included more specific details about how his past experience related to the job.

Big Time Corporation
52 Pickup Avenue
Jobtown, New York 12345

To Whom It May Concern,

Hi! I saw your ad in the Journal of Sales and Marketing for the Regional Director of Sales position and thought I would apply. My resume is included with this letter.

I have worked in sales my whole life, and I think I would be pretty good at the job your company needs to fill. I'd like to tell you about my experience at the interview. With my sales experience, you will have better sales than ever before no matter what you sell.

You can call me for an interview at (555) 555-5555. That's my home number, so you can leave a message if I don't answer.

Sincerely,

John Doe

   
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