English Español
 
Career Tools

What is it?
A cover letter is a great way of introducing yourself to a potential employer. It is the best companion to send along with your resume and in some cases, it is even required. However, you must adapt your cover letter for each different job you apply for. This way, it relates completely to the desired job and shows your interest and knowledge of that specific company.

Have in Mind:
The cover letter can potentially be the determining factor of your hiring, or discharge. Here are some tips and suggestions for when building your cover letter.

  • Think of it as your own 60 second commercial. You must shortly concise your best attributes and qualifications for the job and give the employer as many reasons for them to employ you, and no one else.
  • Think about yourself and your experiences. How do they relate to the organization you’re writing to? Which of your talents, skills, and accomplishments should be brought to the attention of this organization? Be specific.
  • How did you find out about the organization? If it was through a personal contact, write down the name. If through an advertisement, write down where and when you saw it.
  • What do you know about the organization? What attracted you to it? Maybe it’s personal (a friend worked there), or maybe you admire their work philosophy. Doing some research about the company is highly recommended. Be sure to pin point some information about the company, and subtly appraise their accomplishments to show how interested you are in working with them.
  • Whom are you writing to? It’s always best to write to a real, live person; so even if you’re responding to an ad that doesn’t include a specific contact, try to look up the name of someone in particular to write to. Try calling the company to request this information.

Doing it Right
Busy people don’t have the time to read long letters from people they don’t know. Start it out with a very interesting and informative first paragraph, so they’ll want to keep reading.

FORMAT

  • The cover letter should be maximum one page long (in standard business letter format). • Leave wide margins (minimum 1 inch) and use a clean, simple font like Arial or Times New Roman.
  • Don’t be tempted to use a tiny font just to fit everything on one page; 10- or 12-point type is best.

Composing the Letter

  • Paragraph One: The first paragraph is the most important. It will be the first thing your potential employer reads, and ultimately determine if he should keep reading or not. You can start out by telling how you heard about the job (This is especially important if you’ve been referred by a mutual acquaintance). Be sure to make an interesting and intriguing statement to gain the employer’s attention.
  • Paragraph Two: Here you should describe, not list, your qualifications for the job – skills, talents, accomplishments and personality traits. Don’t go overboard. It should be a short preview; your résumé is there to fill in the rest of the details. When writing this, think about how they fit in the company and how could your skills and qualifications contribute in it.
  • Paragraph Three: Describe why you think you’d be good for the company. Maybe you share their goals or you’ve always used their products or maybe you feel you could contribute new and fresh ideas. Companies feel good when the candidates feel a connection to them and have a good understanding of how the company works, even before they’re hired.
  • Paragraph Four: Mention the attached résumé, close with an interesting statement and give them reasons to carefully read your resume. Suggest a time and a way for you to follow up and make sure you give the reader easy ways contact you. Tip: Use job-specific keywords. Using critical keywords will enhance your letter and show the employer that you have real experience in the field.

Essentials

  • Proofread carefully. Make no mistakes! They aren’t allowed. Absolutely no misspellings, incorrect dates or grammatical errors. Use simple, clear sentences. Choose every word carefully.
  • Appearance counts. Invest in nice stationery. Use good quality paper. Keep it simple and avoid colors, scents or any other DIY decorations.
  • NO photos. Unless you’re an aspiring actor or model, don’t enclose a photo. Keep copies of your résumé and cover letter. You’ll need them to refresh your memory when you follow up later.

Make Your Cover Letter be the One

  • Be yourself. A “template” approach is fine, but your letter should reflect your own personality.
  • Clearer expression. Be specific and make sure your words and sentences mean exactly what you intend.
  • Write in the active tense. Instead of saying “...my best attributes include team play and motivating people,” say “I’m a dedicated team player who can motivate people…” this is key to show a go-getter and great leading employee, instead of one who waits to be led.

Online Cover Letter
While online cover letters are just as important as print cover letters, and follow the same basic rules, they come with some special considerations. Online cover letters are shorter.

An online cover letter should be 2-3 paragraphs and under 150 words.

Make the most of an email subject line. Don’t just leave the subject line blank or insert a job number unless that’s what you’re instructed to do. Use the subject line to sell yourself. For example, if you’re applying for a sales position, in your subject line say something like “Experienced Salesperson for Executive Sales position.”

Use plain styling. Not all e-mails will recognize specialized text, bullets, tabs, boldface text or formatted text or other special styling.

Email your cover letter to a friend or yourself before sending it to your employer. This will give you an opportunity to make sure the formatting and content look okay on the receiving end.

Download the formats
Click on the document of your interest to download it:

Cover Letter Info
Cover Letter Template 1
Cover Letter Template 2