Writing a cover letter can be a very daunting task. Unfortunately, at one time or another, we have all found ourselves following the Ten Most Common Steps to Writing.
Step 1: Panic
Step 2: Procrastinate
Step 3: Divert
Step 4: Delegate
Step 5: Panic again
Step 6,7,8: Shake, rattle, and roll
Step 9: The mad dash
Step 10: Mail, hope, and pray
If these are the steps you commonly go through when writing, there is hope. With some simple skills you can easily write a cover letter that will set you apart from other applicants. It’s not as hard as you think. And luckily, you don’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist or use eight four-syllable words per paragraph.
How to Set up the Page
Use white or ivory paper only.
Write your address, personal telephone number, email address, and the date, in that order, in the top right-hand corner.
Below your address, on the left-hand margin, write the name, title, and address of the person to whom you are sending the letter.
Get the first and last name of the person you are addressing it to.
Skip a line. Write “Dear……” then skip a line and begin writing. Do not use “Miss” or “Mrs.” unless you have received correspondence from this person and can confirm which salutation she uses. If you cannot confirm, address her as “Ms.”
Send an original, signed letter. Not a photocopy.
What to Include
Stick to three or four short paragraphs. In the first paragraph tell about who you are and why you are writing. Avoid irrelevant information, jargons, and clichés. In the second paragraph tell about your professional skills and academic qualifications. The third paragraph will be used to explain why you would be an asset to the prospective employer. It is an opportunity to show how much you know about the company and why you will be a great match. Request that the company schedule an interview with you or contact you about your application in the fourth paragraph. Then, end the letter with a brief sentence thanking the reader for his or her time. Skip two lines and write, “Yours truly.” Skip three to five lines, and sign your name.