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Writing a cover letter for a job application adds a persuasive narrative to the basic information on your resume for why you should be hired. Your cover letter is your introduction to an employer; spend time choosing the best arguments for your hiring, proofreading your letter and using professional language. Create a strong cover letter by illustrating your abilities with specific examples from prior work.
Begin your cover letter by listing your name, location, phone number and email address. Craft your letter to fit on one piece of paper. Write your first draft without length restrictions, then edit the body paragraphs until the letter is the correct length.
Write “Dear”, “Mr.” or “Ms.” and the employer’s last name; if you are not sure who will read your letter, address it to a position title (e.g., “Director of Recruitment”) rather than “To Whom It May Concern”. Follow this salutation with a colon.
State the position you seek and where you heard about the opening: “I am writing to apply for the X position advertised in Y.” Spend one or two sentences briefly explaining both who you are and why you would be a good hire. For example, “I am a former journalist who feels my experience writing about legal news makes me an excellent candidate for the position of law journal editor.”
Use the body of your cover letter to illustrate your abilities and show how well you fit the job description. Highlight the most important parts of your resume, expanding on any experiences that directly relate to your prospective position. The University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center suggests that your cover letter complement rather than repeat your resume information.
Research the company where you are applying. When arguing how you are a good fit for a position, refer to information such as the company’s mission statement to show your interest in the organization.
End your cover letter with a brief statement summarizing why you are a good fit for the position. Encourage contact by stating that you look forward to discussing your application in greater detail. Sign off using “Sincerely” and your full name; attach any requested documents such as a resume or reference list.
- Harvard University Office of Career Services: Cover Letters
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: What Do I Include in My Cover Letter Heading?
- Duke Law Career Center: Writing a Cover Letter
- Claremont Graduate University Student Services: Writing Academic Cover Letters
- The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin: Cover Letters
Dilly Dedalus wears all the writing hats: technical, academic and creative. An interdisciplinary graduate student with a master's degree in digital interaction studies, she combines experience in academic research, business analysis and web programming. She has been writing professionally since 2001 in academic journals, ghost-writing web development blogs since 2005 and crafting articles for eHow since 2009.