by David Chan, Founder of Silicon Valley Resources
Here are some tips to prepare a compelling cover letter:
• Put your name and contact information at the top of the page. Make your name large and bold enough to be easily read. Be sure to include your address, phone number and email address. Since the cover letter is a condensed version of your resume you can make the print large enough to be easily read.
• Use standard letter format. Put the date on the upper left side, under the name section. Place the company’s information under the date. This should include the full name and title of the person you are sending the resume to. If you don’t have the title of the person you should try to find out. Use some investigative research to find out the name. Then address the person by name using “Dear (Mr./Ms) last name”
• Start the letter with a compelling sentence. Try to think of something to grab the attention of the reader. You may want to try to establish a connection with the person here. Alternatively you could use a quote or a question. While you may be tempted to be witty try to avoid coming off as obnoxious or too cute. That will get your cover letter in the garbage can.
• Include the title of the position you are applying for. Often the company has more than one job opening and you need to be specific.
• The middle of the cover letter should be one or two short paragraphs that make relevant statements about your qualifications. Try not to just summarize your resume but instead use relevant and interesting facts about you that are drawn from your resume.
• The last paragraph of the cover letter should be a call to action or an explanation of your next action. For example you may want to include asking the person to contact you to arrange an interview or state that you will call to confirm receipt of the resume.
• Close the letter with “Sincerely yours” and your name. Type your name with a space above where you can sign it. At the bottom type the words “enclosure: resume”
• Always pay close attention to any instructions that are given in the job posting or ad. They may give specific addresses and may or may not accept phone calls for questions. They also may prefer mailed resumes to emailed or fax copies so be sure to check first.
• Don’t make yourself sound too glowing or too bland. You want to stand out yet don’t want to make it sound as though the company is doing everything wrong and you’ll come in and fix it all.
• Do your research on the company before you submit the resume and cover letter. Most companies have an online presence that you can review easily on the Internet.