How do I format a cover letter?

When you submit your resume to a prospective employer, it’s often helpful to support it with a strong cover letter. An effective cover letter is more than just an afterthought to your resume; it’s the very first thing a hiring manager reads. It piques their interest and incites them to continue – or not.

Your cover letter provides a compelling explanation of how your values and goals align with an organization and how your experience and skill set are the best fit for the job.

Components of a Cover Letter

Organize your cover letter into four parts:

  • Heading: Your contact information, followed by the company contact. Address the letter to a specific person, if possible. If you don’t have the hiring manager’s name, call and ask for it.

  • Introduction: This begins with your salutation. (If you are unable to find the person’s name, address them by title; for example, “Dear Human Resources Manager.”) This section also includes information on who you are, why you’re applying for the job, and how you heard about the opportunity.

  • Body: This consists of persuasive copy describing the attributes that make you a strong candidate.

  • Closing: Restate your main points and make a request for an interview. Make sure your closing is not vague, but instead suggests specific action.

Cover Letter Template

Here’s how your cover letter might be structured – along with some additional ideas and tips to flesh out each section:

 

Date

Your Name

Your Full Mailing Address

 

Name of Employer

Title of Employer

Name of Company or Organization

Full Mailing Address

 

Dear Mr./Ms. (Name):

Introduction: Tell why you’re writing, name the position and how you heard about it. Express your interest in the job and the company. Tip #1: If you heard about the position from a contact within the organization, make sure they have a positive relationship with the recipient before using their name. Tip #2: If you’ve previously met the recipient of your cover letter, remind them and briefly discuss a topic from your last meeting.

  • Tip: Be sure to address the specific position you are applying for.

Body: Make this as powerful as possible, without clouding your main points with excessive or irrelevant details. Use your resume as the source of this information without parroting back the same words. Emphasize the value you will add to the organization. Tip #1: Slant your remarks to your employer’s point of view. Tip #2: If you’re a recent graduate, explain how your academic background makes you a strong candidate.

Closing: Reveal what you plan to do in follow-up to submitting your resume. Be confident in selling your skills; for example, “I believe my experience in materials management will help your Pittsburgh division achieve its supply chain goals, and I look forward to meeting with you to further discuss my qualifications. I will contact you in January and would welcome a personal interview. I can be reached at 555-555-5555 or jdoe@email.com.” And last but not least, “Thank you for your consideration.”

Before sending your cover letter and resume, make sure both have been carefully edited and proofread. If time allows, set them aside for one or two days, then reread them with a fresh eye. And, have a trusted friend or colleague take a look at them as well.

 

For more tips on the tools, strategy and resources you need for your successful job search, contact the recruitment experts at CPS today. If you are looking for jobs in Syracuse, check our job board today!

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