A cover letter should accompany each resume you send, email or fax. The cover letter provides you with an opportunity to highlight and amplify some of the information in the resume, to address the specific needs and interests of the employer, and to suggest the areas in which your skills match the organization's needs.

If sending your cover letter by mail, it should be individually addressed and printed on paper identical (or at least similar) to that of the resume. It should be no more than one page, and business-like in appearance. Never use personal stationery. Whenever feasible, address the letter to a specific person, preferably the one who is likely to make the employment decision.

The cover letter is as important as the resume because it is the first thing that is seen by the employer. An excellent cover letter can set you apart from others applying for the same position. If you feel that your writing skills are weak, or that you don’t want to waste a lot of time “reinventing the wheel,” you should consider getting a copy of a book that has sample cover/marketing letters that are effective and can be adapted to your situation.

One very helpful book is 200 Letters for Job Hunters by William S. Frank (these letters are now available online for free at http://cover-letters.com/Cover-Letters.aspx). This resource will provide you with all the letter formats you will most likely ever need. It will also help you to use phrases and formats that have been proven to get results.

Basic Rules for Good Cover Letters

  • Type each letter individually. (Create your basic format on your computer, and then personalize it for each employer.)
  • Address each employer by name and title.
  • Open your letter with a strong sentence that indicates why you should be seriously considered for the position.
  • Devote the center of your letter to brief facts about your experience and accomplishments that will arouse the employer's curiosity. Use such facts to draw attention to your resume.
  • Appeal in your letter to the self-interest of the person to whom you are writing. Include statements that indicate that hiring you will lead to higher production, greater efficiency, reduced waste, better sales, higher profits, etc. You want to show how you can help solve the employer's problems.
  • If at all possible, include some challenging thoughts that will cause the employer to feel that discussion with you would be worthwhile even if they really hadn't been planning to hire anyone right now.
  • Where possible (in letters to nearby employers), bid directly for an interview and indicate that you will call to arrange a suitable time. Without being pompous, make them feel that declining your request would be irresponsible simply because you obviously have so much to offer!
  • Keep your letter short to hold interest.
  • Finally, get someone to proofread your letters. Avoid misspellings, typos and grammatical errors.

Cover Letter Format and Example

© Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, www.ChristianCareerCenter.com. All rights reserved. The above information is intended for personal use only. No commercial use of this information is authorized without written permission.