A cover letter is used to introduce you and your resume to a potential employer it’s a part of your “portfolio”. Generally cover letters have 3 parts: the introduction, body, and closing. According to Brian Creel, who works in the Career Development Center, at the University of South Florida, he states that there are certain details that you should include in each section, which I will list below. Before we get into further detail about the 3 sections we need to discuss the format of a cover letter.
Format: Shown to the right is the correct format for a cover letter. The first thing you want to make sure you have on the cover letter is your name and information. Now the position and how that information is going to exactly look on your cover letter should come from how it looks on your résumé and vise verse shows your attention to detail to the employer. Next as you can see goes the date, the employer’s name and their information. You absolutely want to make sure their information is correct before sending. If you can’t find the specific person’s name it is okay to just write start at the Title and then for the “Dear Mr./Ms.” you would write “To Whom It May Concern”. Next comes the 3 sections that were mentioned above and will be talked about a little later. At the end of your cover letter you want to write “Sincerely,” then press enter 4 times and type your name. You can send your cover letter without a signature especially if it’s an electronic submission. However, being the professionals that we are you should print your cover letter sign it and scan it back into your computer before you send it off.
Introduction: In the introduction you want to state the reason for the letter, specify the position in which you are applying, interested in or the type of work you are seeking. You also need to include how you learned about the position or opportunity. Try to sound excited when writing the introduction.
Body: The body can be more than one paragraph. Brian Creel states that there should be about two paragraphs. The first paragraph should say why you would like to work for the organization or company and you should mention the most recent positive news you have seen about that organization or company. It shows that you have done your research about the organization or company. For the last paragraph of the body section you should state why you feel you are the best choice for the position or opportunity. You also want to match your qualifications to those that are listed in the job posting you are applying or interested in. You do this by rewriting their qualifications that they posted in the job description, but be honest don’t rewrite those qualifications that you don’t have. Within one of the body paragraphs you can also state how your academic background qualifies you, especially if you are a recent graduate with little to no experience.
Closing: In this section you should express your interest for an interview. You should repeat your contact information and when you will follow up. Be polite and thank the organization for their consideration. Try to end with a statement that encourages a response.
Shown to the right is an example of a good cover letter from the Business Communication Essentials textbook by Courtland Bovée and John Thill:
Thanks for reading, if you have any questions or comments don’t be afraid to leave them.
Caréa Robinson a soon to be 2012 graduate from the University of South Florida with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health. Her hopes are to work with community outreach within the Public Health field.