Picture Perfect: A Cover Letter That Portrays You

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Picture Perfect:

A Cover Letter That Portrays You

As the host of a business, I receive many applications to the restaurant that I work for. For as long as I’ve been there, absolutely no one I have come across has bothered to include a cover letter. Honestly, it is one of the best things you can do for your application process. It personalizes your application to the hiring manager, the job position, and the business itself. Plus it makes you look good.

This blog has been designed to help you, the applicant, create the perfect cover letter to help aid you in your application process and land you that interview! For more sound advice on how to land that interview, you can peruse my other blog titled “The Highest Hurdle: Landing That Interview.”

A cover letter is meant to serve as your way of introducing yourself and communicating that you are the perfect applicant for the job. You can do this by revealing who you are in your writing and showing them your competency, not only in professional writing, but in your intended occupational field.

Below are helpful tips and instructions on how to create a picture perfect cover letter that portrays you:

ENTERING THE INFORMATION SECTION

To begin the letter, you should include your/the applicant’s information, followed by the recipient’s information.

First, type in the applicant’s street address, hold shift and hit enter, type in the City, State, and Zip Code, hold shift and hit enter, and type the date in a month, day, year format. Hit enter and repeat this process for the recipient, as shown below.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT SALUTATION

Once you’ve entered the appropriate applicant and recipient information, you can begin the body of your cover letter.

To begin the body, you will need an introduction, or salutation. To write a salutation, you can say “To whom it may concern,” or “Dear Mr./Ms.  Thomson,” depending if you now their name or not.

Try your best to identify exactly who you are writing to [the hiring manager’s name, for example]. That way, it goes directly to the person reviewing the application and there is no confusion as to where your application ends up. If you don’t know what their name is, then you can tailor it to the person reviewing the applications, i.e. the hiring manager.

After your salutation, it is time to begin the body of the letter.

WRITING THE BODY

Once your salutation has been written, press enter one more time. Do not use indents for your following paragraphs.

Your first body paragraph should be articulated in such a way that you subtly boast of the position being offered and the entity providing the position. Also, explain why you feel you merit the position.

Next, your second paragraph should relate the experience/skills/capabilities related to the position that makes you compatible, if not perfect, for the job.

Finally, your third paragraph should invite the reader to peruse further details of your qualifications in your attached resume, if you have one. If you don’t have a resume, you should make one.

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YOUR CLOSING STATEMENTS

After the body of your cover letter has been completed, you can start on your closing.

In closing, you want to politely, but assertively request a time to meet and discuss your application further (a.k.a. an interview). You also want to provide your contact information, including your email address and phone number, thank them for their time, and wrap it up with an optimistic statement anticipating your next meeting with them.

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CHOOSING THE RIGHT SIGN OFF

After you’ve written your closing paragraph, it is time to sign off. Press enter and type your closing salutation.

After your sign off, press enter four times (to leave room for a hard copy signature) and then type your full name. If you are including other documents in your application, hit enter twice more and type “Enclosed:,” hit tab, and list in a single line, using commas to separate, all of the documents you are enclosing.

HOW TO STYLIZE YOUR COVER LETTER

After you’ve got all of your words on paper, it’s time to add some design. You don’t want to go overboard with this; a subtle, elegant, and professional scheme is what you should aim for.

There are many things you can do to your document for a subtle, elegant, and professional look. For starters, you can change the page color from bland white to a soft, professional color, i.e. hues of beige, neutral greens, or soft blues.

Another element to help create a professional look is a page border. A page border makes the document look more official. There are many different forms of borders that you can play with, especially if you are using Microsoft Word.

Instead of choosing a page color, you can upload a picture to use a background. Make sure the picture is elegant, appropriate to the position you are applying for, and most importantly it must be a background! You don’t want your backdrop to be the main feature of your cover letter – you want it to complement your writing style, personality, and qualifications, not overshadow them.

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I sincerely hope that this blog has proven beneficial, helpful, and hopeful to you as you go through the application process and that you paint the perfect picture, a cover letter that portrays you! Best of luck to you in all of your endeavors, and have a happy holiday.

Beth DeVoll is an Integrative Biology major at the University of Southern Florida.

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