Key Elements of a Cover Letter

The cover letter is usually the first item an employer reads from you. Your letter should immediately indicate what position you are applying for and then give information that demonstrates why you should be considered for the position. Do not repeat all of the information contained in your resume. Instead, highlight or elaborate on resume items that are directly applicable to the position for which you are applying. The following information should be included in your cover letter.

Information about you
Begin your cover letter with your contact information. It should be in block style, on the left margin of your paper, towards the top.
Current home address
Telephone number

Include a date as you would do with any business letter.

Contact Person's Name, Title, Employer, and Address
Including a specific name can get your letter and resume to the hiring manager more quickly and can be an effective personal touch. If you are applying for an advertised position that does not give a name to contact, call the company and ask for the department manager's name.

Choose the appropriate way to address the contact person.
For example:
Dear Mr. Johns (if a man's name is the contact)
Dear Ms. Smith (if a woman's name is the contact)
Dear Prospective Employer (if there is no contact name)

Opening Paragraph
In the opening paragraph tell how you learned about the position. You may, for example, know of a job through:
a classified advertisement
an unsolicited mailing
the Internet
personal referrals

Middle Paragraph
This paragraph gives a summary of your background and critical skills (hard skills) that make you qualified for the position.

Second Middle Paragraph
This paragraph can be used to demonstrate your persuasive skills (soft skills).

Contact Information and Closing
At the end of the letter talk about your availability for the job, where you can be contacted, and when you are going to contact the hiring person for an appointment to discuss your application. If you have no contact name you may simply want to indicate your anticipation for a response in this part of the letter. Thank the person to whom you are writing for his/her time and consideration of your application.

Other Considerations:

Paper and Printing

Error Prevention

Layout and Design

Planning and Tone