Career Center - Cover Letter Tips

5 Rules for Writing Cover Letters

A cover letter is your opportunity to shine and attract attention. It allows you to be more conversational and a little less formal than with a resume.

The cover letter is your voice, your elevator spiel, your chance to focus specifically on their requirements and how you are uniquely qualified to meet those needs. You can also use this forum to explain any gaps in employment or change in career focus.

 Whether this introduction is in hard copy or email, there are 5 rules that need to be followed.

Rule One – Format

  • Use only black ink in a basic 12 point font - Ariel, Tahoma, Calibri, and Verdana work well.
  • Leave space between paragraphs.
  • Include your contact information.

Rule Two – Name drop

  • Tell the employer specifically how you found out about the opportunity, especially if it was through one their employees or networking contacts.

Rule Three – Include three paragraphs

  • The first paragraph should state the position for which you are applying and how you learned about it. Express enthusiasm and the likely match between your skills and the position’s requirements.
  • Refer specifically to the known job requirements and how your experience and accomplishments qualify you for the position.
  • The final paragraph should reiterate your enthusiasm for the opportunity, thank them for their consideration and let the employer know how they can reach you including your telephone number and email address.

Rule Four – Do not rewrite your resume!

  • Highlight your background as it relates to the specifics of the job but do not cut and paste your resume into the cover letter. This is the appetizer not the entree.

Rule Five – Perfection

  • No spelling mistakes!
  • No grammatical errors!

When you follow these 5 rules, you’ll attract attention and move your resume to the top of the stack positioning you for the next step, your interview.

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