The rules that follow don’t only apply to cover letters that are printed out on paper. They hold true for cover letters that are emailed as well. By ignoring formal rules about cover letters, you could immediately lose your chance at a job with one sloppy e-mail.
- Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. Proper spelling and grammar are essential.
- Read and read the job announcement and be sure that you have included all the requested information such as salary, references, etc.
- Address the cover letter to either the hiring manager or the person that the announcement requested you send the cover letter to. If you do not have the name, but have the name of the company, check their website to find the human resources department head.
- Be sure that your e-mail subject contains the word resume and your name to make it easy to recognize.
- Use a font that is easy to read, such as Times New Roman.
- Remember that details matter. The competition in the job market is fiercer than ever, so even the smallest mistake can make the hiring manager disregard your application.
Additional Cover Letter Writing Tips
- Do not address the letter “To Whom It May Concern.” Even if the job posting says not to call about the job, it can be a good idea to call simply to ask the name of he person in charge of hiring. If you cannot get a name, then address the letter to the title of the person in charge of hiring such as “office manager.”
- Sign a printed out cover letter in blue or black ink so that it is shown to be an original copy.
- Be sure that the cover letter is customized to the organization or company for which it is addressed. Form letters are easy for employers to identify. By customizing the letter you demonstrate a level of serious interest in the organization and its business.
- Choose one or two of your greatest relevant skills or accomplishments to emphasize in the letter. It will show why you are an above average candidate and why the employer should remember you.
- Use the cover letter as a way to persuade an employer to look at your resume. Do not bore them by simply describing your background when they can see it on your resume.
- Use clear, concise, and positive language when writing your cover letter.
- Do not use negative language or ambiguous language that may emphasize your weaknesses or bring your level of confidence into question.
- Writing in an active voice with positive words gives your letter, and your candidacy, a certain level of energy.
- Be sure that the cover letter is written in an organized fashion. If you are talking about similar skills or about your background, keep those topics in the right paragraphs. Use topic sentences to help direct the subjects of individual paragraphs.
- Do not use buzzwords or clichés. Often, job announcements will include terms such as “self-starter” or “team player” but by simply parroting those terms you are not bringing anything new or different than what dozens of other applicants have already said.
Check out some of these cover letter samples for an idea of what a good cover letter should look like.