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INTRODUCTION     Cover Letter Do's and Don'ts     Letter Writing Guide
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COVER LETTERS

Each time you send out your resume, you need to write a cover letter.  This letter introduces you to your prospective employer.  Your cover letter must be tailored to the position you are applying for.  Your cover letter is your introduction to your resume.

Basic Tips

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Address your cover letter to a specific person.  If you aren't sure who you should be addressing the letter to, find out before you write it.

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Add specific references about the company you're applying to.  This indicates your knowledge of and interest in the work the company is doing.  Include what job you are applying for and describe how you found out about it.

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Point out your most relevant accomplishments, skills and experience and how these would make you an asset to the job.

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Be sure to include where and when you can be reached.  Emphasize your willingness to come to an interview.

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Sign your cover letter.

All cover letters should:

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Explain why you are sending a resume.   Don't send a resume without a cover letter.  Don't make the reader guess what you are asking for; be specific: Do you want a summer internship opportunity, or a permanent position at graduation; are you inquiring about future employment possibilities?

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Tell specifically how you learned about the position or the organization — a flyer posted in your department, a web site, a family friend who works at the organization. It is appropriate to mention the name of someone who suggested that you write.

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Convince the reader to look at your resume; the cover letter will be seen first. Therefore, it must be very well written and targeted to that employer.

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Call attention to elements of your background — education, leadership, experience — that are relevant to a position you are seeking. Be as specific as possible, using examples.

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Reflect your attitude, personality, motivation, enthusiasm, and communication skills.

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Provide or refer to any information specifically requested in a job advertisement that might not be covered in your resume, such as availability date, or reference to an attached writing sample.

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Indicate what you will do to follow-up.
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In a letter of application — applying for an advertised opening — applicants often say something like "I look forward to hearing from you." However, it is better to take the initiative to follow-up, saying something like, "I will contact you in the next two weeks to see if you require any additional information regarding my qualifications."

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In a letter of inquiry — asking about the possibility of an opening — don't assume the employer will contact you. You should say something like, "I will contact you in two weeks to learn more about upcoming employment opportunities with (name of organization)."  Then mark your calendar to make the call.

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