Cover Letters at a Glance

Here’s a quick introduction to writing an effective cover letter:

Be Clear: Don’t meander. Get to the point. Lose anything that doesn’t help tie you to the job you’re applying for.

Be Concise: Cover letters are scanned quickly, not digested at length like a good novel. State your purpose and qualifications for the job in as few a words as possible.

Be Grammar Conscious: Don’t be overly familiar by using slang, even in e-mail. Write in a professional and cordial manner.

Be Positive: Don’t allow negativity to color your writing. Even if you’re not applying for a sales position, think like a salesperson. You’re writing a pitch and your the product.

Be Specific: Don’t re-use old material from other cover letters. Where possible, you should write a custom cover letter for each new position and take into account specifics of the job description. This is difficult because so few applications turn into job offers – but try.

Beware of including weaknesses: You’ll get your chance to detail your weaknesses during the interview. Don’t start boasting how you need to beef up your Time Management skills until you absolutely need to.

Be Knowledgeable: If you know anything about the company or industry you’re applying for, try to convey this without being obvious.

Be Conscientious: Review your cover letter at least once before e-mailing or mailing it. Grammatical or spelling errors can indicate sloppiness or a lack of professionalism. You can spell all the words you like wrong once you get the job. And please, if you have a spell checker, USE IT!!!