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Cover Letters Part 2

Summary:
This resource explains what you should do before you start writing, and it overviews all the sections your cover letter should contain.

What should I do before I write my cover letter?

Collect information about the employer and the job opening before you start your cover letter. This information will help you write your letter. The information you collect will help you explain how your experiences can help the employer and fulfill the job requirements. To collect information, do the following:

  • Read the job advertisement carefully and underline important information you can use in your letter: Looking for a motivated person with a good driving record. “I am a motivated person who has a good driving record.”
  • Collect information about the employer/company and job. Use the Internet or speak with people who may know about the employer. Make sure you use sources you can trust
  • Visit the local employment office, library, or community college career center and ask about the employer and job position
  • If you have remaining questions about the employer or the job position, call the company and ask


What sections should my cover letter include?

Your cover letter should include these sections:

  • Heading
    • Date you are writing
    • Your mailing address
    • Phone number (home, cell)
    • Email address
    • Address of the employer’s company
  • Introduction
    • Greeting (a specific person if you know)
    • State the position you are applying for and how you heard about it
    • State why you believe you are a good match for the position and organization, including 2-3 experiences you will talk about in the rest of the letter (these items should come from your résumé)
  • Argument/body paragraphs (2-3)
    • Tailor the cover letter for each job application
    • Focus each paragraph on one experience that shows you are a good match for the job opening
    • Tell a story; do not just list your skills
    • Mention your résumé
  • Closing
    • Close with a strong reminder of why you are a good match for the job
    • Ask for an interview in some way
    • Provide your phone and email contact information again
    • Sign your name
    • Include your attachment reference about your résumé (Enclosure: John Smith Résumé


Please note that your cover letter needs to be free of spelling grammatical errors. You should also avoid using contractions: won’t, can’t, I’ll. Instead, spell out these words: Will not, cannot, I will.

The following pages explain what each section should contain.

Click here to download the PDF file containing sample résumés and employment letters.

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Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.