What is a cover letter?





As an editor, you are guiding your client to answer the advertisement and provide skills or experience the company wants.  Reply to queries in the advertisement in order of importance.  Think like an employer.  Is there anything your client can contribute that is not mentioned in the ad?

Keep to facts and details (not “My computer skills are great,” but “I am familiar with Word, Excel and PowerPoint”).

The letter should be one page, focused, enthusiastic and professional.  Send your letter and resume in a full-sized envelope so that you don’t have to fold the paper.  It’s all part of the neat presentation.

The letter should be individual

Þ    Give your reader some insight into your qualities as an individual.

Þ    Show how your qualities can contribute to the organization.

Þ    Avoid copying the form and style of other letters.

Address it to a specific person

Þ    Address the person doing the hiring.  Research the person’s name or phone the organization and ask for the name or the name of the personnel manager.

Catch your reader's attention

Þ    Get the reader's attention in the introduction; be interesting and appropriate.

Þ    Or start by referring to the company's product, or other relevant details.

Þ    Show your knowledge of the company or institution.

Þ    Get to the point quickly.

First paragraph

Make your goal clear.

Þ    Name the position stated in the ad and identify the source if you're answering an advertisement.

Þ    Identify the job title used by the organization (if you're looking for a job).

Þ    Adapt the professional objective stated in your resume if a specific job title isn't available.

Þ    Provide a preview of the rest of the letter.  Describe your qualifications so the reader knows immediately whether you are suitable.

Þ    Create a final sentence that refers to work experience described in the second paragraph.

Your qualifications

Þ    Describe the qualifications that best suit you for the job and the organization. Make your letter strong enough to convince readers that your distinctive background qualifies you for the job.  Make sure the letter is not too long. Some employers recommend a maximum of four paragraphs.

Other tips

Þ    Refer to your resume. Be sure to refer to your enclosed resume at the most appropriate point in your letter, for example, in the discussion of your qualifications or in the closing paragraph.

Þ    End with a polite request to set up an interview, and suggest a procedure for doing so.

Þ    Be professional. Make sure your letter is professional in format, organization, style, grammar, and mechanics. Be courteous and eliminate all errors. Remember that readers often turn down applicants because of the appearance and quality of the letter.

Þ    Ask for advice. Prepare at least one draft to show to a critical reader for comments before revising and sending the letter.



An application letter (for example, to a university) generally follows the requirements of the particular university, which provides the format, the number of words allowed, and the questions to answer.  Again, make sure that the letter is without errors.