Addressing and Salutation
Thank You Notes
Effective Cover Letters
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Tips for Writing Effective Cover Letters
- Address the employing officer by name and, if possible, by title. Research names in the library or call the organization. With so many institutional changes these days, it never hurts to call the organization to verify who is presently in the position and double check the spelling and title.
- Talk Person to Person. Speak to the reader as an individual, i.e., one friend telling another friend about a good thing. Your writing style should be simple: short words, short sentences, short paragraphs, active rather than passive voice and no cliches. Use the pronoun you.
- Emphasize what you can do, not who you are.
- Your cover letter should not repeat everything that is in your resume. It should personalize your information and make it relevant to the specific company to which you are responding. Its objective is to provide the recipient with a reason to read your resume with a degree of positive anticipation.
- Respond to the qualifications sought in the ad, but don't use their words to do so. Say the same thing, using different words at different times.
- If the company seeks leadership skills, you can say that you have experience:
Organizing groups; effectively directing others; motivating individuals; taking acceptable risks; making difficult decisions; gaining other's cooperation; facilitating change; winning others' confidence
- If the company seeks management skills, you can say that you have experience:
forming objectives; managing time and energy; delegating responsibility; anticipating future needs; building teamwork; delegating authority; coping with change; establishing priorities
- If the company seeks communication skills, you can say that you have
asking strategic questions; listening effectively; writing convincingly; speaking persuasively; explaining concepts well; reading comprehensively; reporting accurately; writing persuasively
- Stress the part of your background that will portray you as a qualified candidate for the position.
- Catch the employer's attention by opening your letter with a strong statement. An employer receives hundreds of letters a month, and you want yours to be the one that is read.
- Keep your letter short. It should be one page with three or four paragraphs.
- Use the center of your letter to arouse the employer's curiosity by stating brief facts about your accomplishments.
- Include clues that hiring you will lead to higher production, greater efficiency, and better performance by focusing on the self-interest of the person to whom you are writing.
- Try to include a challenging thought that will cause the employer to feel that meeting with you would be worthwhile even if there are no present openings.
- Be direct in requesting an interview or state that you will call to arrange a meeting. Letters should ask for something, and the most common thing to request is an interview.
- Plan on mailing a group of letters all at the same time. If you will be mailing 10 letters and you think it will take the one week to complete all 10, date all the letters with the future completion date. When all the letters are completed, mail them. It is too confusing to follow them up if they have been mailed randomly.
- When mailing a batch of letters, or even one, try to think when your letter will arrive so as to receive maximum attention. Most employers receive their heaviest mail on Mondays. On Fridays, they may be more concerned with winding up the week rather than investigating new employees. Mail your letter so that it will arrive in employer offices on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.