A well written letter is an effective way to present your qualifications to an employer. Letters of application (cover letters) are read, compared, and used to screen candidates for interview consideration.
Your resume, when accompanied by a cover letter, is a sign of a serious and professional approach to job hunting. It will give employers whom you approach an indication that you are sincerely interested in their organization, and that you are giving them personal attention that would not be shown by the arrival of an unaccompanied resume.
A well written cover letter presents your ability to communicate in writing, as well as your organizational ability, both of which are pertinent to most positions.
The Purpose of a Cover Letter
The purpose of the cover letter is to get an interview. Jobs develop from interviews, not letters, so the application letter must achieve a number of things in a minimum of space:
- introduce you to employers
- arrest their attention
- pique their interest
- persuade them that you are the person to interview
Write a rough draft and have another person critique it. Revamp and refine the copy until you are satisfied that the finished letter is warm, personalized, and, at the same time, businesslike in its approach.
Cover Letter Format and Contents
Your Street Address
City, State, Zip Code
Name of Person & Title
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. :
Introduction: State the reason for writing. Name the specific position, or type of work for which you are applying. (Mention the resource used in finding out about the opening/company: news media, friend, faculty, if appropriate.)
Body: Explain why you are interested in working for that employer, or in that field of work, and most importantly what your qualifications are (academic background, work experience, personal skills). Point out achievements that relate to the field and why you enjoy that work. Refer the reader to the enclosed resume, application, and/or portfolio.
Closing: Indicate your desire for an interview. State that you will call on a specific day to see if an interview can be arranged at this person's convenience. (If you will be in their geographic vicinity on a certain day, stress the importance of setting up an interview on that day.)
Enclosure / Attachment
- Refer to mutual acquaintance
- Ask for additional information, if appropriate
Tips on Cover Letters
Every resume should be accompained by a cover letter.
- Each letter of application should be typed individually. Duplicated letters with fill-ins are not appropriate.
- Keep a record of all correspondence.
- The letter should be addressed to a particular individual in the company, preferably the head of the department in which you are hoping to work.
- Use simple, direct language and correct grammar.
- Use plain bond paper.
- Strive for a "picture frame effect" with your margins. Business letters are folded in thirds and mailed in long envelopes, about 9 1/2 inches long.
- Proofread your letters for errors; consider the tone it represents. Use "I" sparingly.
- Be sure to sign your letters, and make certain your address is plainly visible.
Other Types of Letters
Letter For Gathering Information (often called an Inquiry Letter)
Stress the fact that you are looking for information and advice, and are not at this point in time seeking a job interview. Sell the idea of getting together to discuss career options.
Potential employers may occasionally ask for a writing sample to be included with the cover letter and resume, typically for jobs in research, the media, or advertising and public relations.
Follow Up Letters
Indicate the date you first contacted, or interviewed with, the company/organization, and restate your job interest. Stress *why* you are interested in the organization and in the position. Inquire to see if additional information is needed.
Thank You Letters
Should be sent to individuals who have: referred you to employers interviewed you for employment offered you a position rejected you for employment provided you with general information written recommendations for you
Letters Of Acknowledgment
Always acknowledge receipt of offers. Restate title of position, salary, and express your appreciation. Indicate your interest and specify the date you will let the organization know of your decision.
Letter Of Refusal
Express appreciation for the offer and the organization's interest in you. Close the door gently so as not to affect the job opportunities for other B.C. students or your own future possibilities. Professional courtesy is important.
Letter Of Acceptance
Indicate your acceptance of the offer restating position, salary, and starting date.