Writing an Effective Cover Letter

  • Keep the letter concise and to the point. A recruiter on average will spend between 10-30 seconds “scanning” a cover letter. Remember that the letter layout impacts the first impression.
  • Keep it to one page. The purpose of a cover letter is to get the employer interested in reading your resume. A couple of well crafted paragraphs are sufficient to get your point across.
  • Focus on the employer’s needs, NOT YOURS. Make your qualifications clear and emphasize how you can use them to help their organization. Try to keep sentences that begin with “I” to a minimum.
  • Send your letter to the department head or hiring manager. Avoid sending it “To Whom It May Concern.” If you cannot get a name, try “Dear Personnel Director” or Dear Human Resource Manager.”
  • Proofread. Your letters and resumes must be completely accurate and without error. Your cover letter demonstrates your writing skills to the employer. Be sure all grammar, punctuation, spelling and contact information are correct. Don’t just rely on spell check.
  • Employers are not impressed by a cover letter they know has been mass mailed to other employers. Avoid sending out duplicated form cover letters. After you have developed a cover letter structure, use it but personalize it and target the content to the specific job opening.
  • Focus on your accomplishments and skills and how you can be of benefit to the company. Choose your words carefully, sharing with the employer how your education, employment history and internships relate to their opening.
  • Keep a copy of each cover letter for your records. Mark your calendar and follow up with the employer as appropriate.
  • Follow Up. Contact the employer after a week to see if any additional information is needed or if you can schedule a time to meet. Following up with the employer is critical and shows interest in the position. This step can make a difference in you being invited for an interview.

Last Modified: 1/19/17 4:09 PM