Always write to a specific individual rather than to a personnel or human resources office. Whenever feasible, use networking sources to introduce yourself in the opening paragraph of your letter. Be sure you spell the individual's name correctly.
Show the employer that you've done your homework and have a genuine grasp of the organization's personnel needs and philosophy of business. Be sincere in your praise, but don't overdo it!
Write each cover letter separately, even if you use a common framework. Personalize the letter with a sentence or two designed to reflect your sincere interest in the specific employer.
Use natural language in simple, clear sentences. Don't try to impress the reader with unusual vocabulary or complicated sentence structure.
Be clear and concise. Spell out exactly what you want from the employer.
Express your capabilities with confidence, but avoid exaggerating your level of experience. (Two part-time jobs at a department store do not constitute "extensive" retail management experience.)
Check and recheck your letter for correctness with regard to spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure. Be sure to have someone who is a good writer review your letter with you.
Make sure the final letter is completely professional in appearance and appealing to the eye. Use standard business letter format on good stationery, printed with a laser printer.
Finish your letter with a strong closing that indicates the action you desire. Take the initiative by requesting an interview and/or stating your intention to call in a week or two.
Let your personality and energy shine through your words. Use a few vivid details about your background to capture the reader's interest.
It is important to mention activities, honors, and special skills that are not mentioned in your resume. These may reveal the skills that employers look for such as leadership, organization, critical thinking, teamwork, self-management, initiative, and influencing others.
Keep copies of everything you send, and follow up according to your stated intentions. However, don't rely too heavily on cover letters to win you a job. Pursue other avenues of inquiry as well.
Did you remember to sign each letter?
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