The Cover Letter is your first opportunity to introduce yourself to employers. Your cover letter may be printed on the highest quality paper and typed on a state-of-the-art computer, but if it isn’t arranged according to the proper format, you won’t come across as the best candidate for the position.
Return Address Your return address and phone number should appear in the top right-hand corner, without your name. As a general rule, you should avoid abbreviations in the address of your cover letter, although abbreviating the state is increasingly common in all business correspondence.
The Date The date should appear two lines beneath your return address on the right-hand side of the page. Write out the date: do not use an abbreviated format such as 10/04/20xx
Example: October 18, 20xx
The Addressee Always try to find out the name and proper title of the addressee before you send out a cover letter. Two lines beneath the date, on the left-hand side, list the full name of the addressee (use Mr. or Ms.). On the next line, list the individual’s formal business title; on the subsequent line, list the name of the company. This is followed by the company’s address, which generally takes two lines. Occasionally, the individual’s full title or the company name and address will be very long, and can appear awkward on the usual number of lines allocated. In this case, you may prefer using an extra line.
The Salutation The salutation should be typed two lines beneath the company’s address. It should begin with “Dear Mr.” or “Dear Ms.” followed by the individual’s last name and a colon. Even if you have previously spoken with an addressee who has asked you to be called by his or her first name, you should never use a first name in a salutation.
In some cases, such as when you are responding to “blind” advertisements, it may be necessary to adopt a general salutation. In such a circumstance, salutations such as “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Good Morning” may be stronger choices than “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To whom it may concern.” In any case, avoid potentially offensive salutations like “Dear Gentlemen,” or “Dear Sirs.”
First Paragraph State immediately and concisely which position you wish to be considered for and what makes you the best candidate for that position. If you are responding to a classified ad, be sure to reference the name of the publication and the date the ad appeared. Keep the first paragraph short and hard-hitting.
Example: Having majored in mathematics atBostonUniversity, where I also worked as a Research Assistant, I am confident that I would make a very successful Research Trainee in your economics research department.
Second Paragraph Detail what you could contribute to this company, and show how your qualifications will benefit this firm. If you’re responding to a classified ad, specifically discuss how your skills relate to the job’s requirements. Remember, keep it brief!
Example: In addition to my strong background in mathematics, I also offer significant business experience, having worked in a data processing firm, a bookstore, and a restaurant. I am sure that my courses in statistics and computer programming would prove particularly useful in the position of Trainee.
Third Paragraph Describe your interest in the corporation. Subtly emphasize your knowledge about this firm (the result of your research effort) and your familiarity with the industry. You should present yourself as eager to work for any company where you are applying for a position.
Example: I am attracted to City Bank by your recent rapid growth and the superior reputation of your economic research department. After studying different commercial banks, I have concluded that City Bank will be in a strong competitive position to benefit from upcoming changes in the industry, such as the phasing out of Regulation Q.
Final Paragraph In the closing paragraph, specifically request an interview. Include your phone number and the hours you can be reached, or mention that you will follow up with a phone call within a couple days to arrange an interview at a mutually convenient time.
Example: I would like to interview with you at your earliest convenience. I am best reached between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. at (617) 555-5555.
The Closing The closing should be two lines beneath the body of the letter and should be aligned with your return address and the date (toward the right of the page). Keep the closing simple—“Sincerely” suffices. Four lines underneath the closing, type in your full name as it appears on your resume. Sign above your typed name in black ink. Don’t forget to sign the letter! As silly as it sounds, people often forget this seemingly small or simple detail. An oversight such as this suggests that you don’t take care with your work.
Enclosure Line If you are enclosing a resume or other materials with your letter, include an enclosure line, flush left, at the bottom of the letter: Example: Encl. Resume