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Helpful Tips for Cover Letters

Before you decide to send a cover letter with your job application or résumé, ask yourself what purpose the cover letter serves and whether or not you need to send one.

If the employer or recruiter tells you to include a cover letter, take it seriously. Submit a succinct, comprehensive letter to demonstrate your writing skills and to explain your qualifications for the job.

Even if an employer doesn’t require a cover letter, you can submit a short, well written letter stating your interest in the position. This can be an effective way to stand out from the other applicants. If you’re in a unique situation, such as returning to work after a period of retirement, or if you’re exploring a new career, a cover letter gives you an opportunity to explain your candidacy and interest.

When possible, address your cover letter to a specific person. Include the person’s title and address. Sometimes it’s hard to find the name of the hiring manager. If you can’t get a name, address it to “Hiring Manager” instead of “To Whom It May Concern.”

In your cover letter, you should simply state, “I’m writing to express my interest in the position of (name of job and job-posting number) with (name of employer).” The cover letter should be no more than three paragraphs or about half a single-spaced, typed page.

In yourcover letter, try to follow these guidelines:

1. State your interest in the job. The cover letter should address the job you are applying for, your qualifications, and your interest in the position. The cover letter is not a rehash of yourrésumé.

2. Resist the temptation to be witty. Keep your letter brief and to the point.

3. Be careful with name-dropping in your letter. It can be very helpful to mention the names of employees who have referred you, but don’t drop names of people you don’t know.

4. Conclude the letter with a formal and polite statement of interest, such as, “Please feel free to contact me with any questions.” Before your signature (type your name as well at the end), use either the expression, “Respectfully” or “Cordially.” 

If you are submitting your cover letter electronically, send it in a Word document as an e-mail attachment. If you are completing an online form, you may have the options to upload the cover letter as an attachment or to paste it in the form and submit it.

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