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Job Application Letters

Writing Cover Letters— It’s a Cinch

  • Cover letter basics
  • Cover letter sections
  • Cover letter samples
  • Follow up letters

The Basics

What is a Cover Letter/ Job Application Letter?

  • A document that explains your job goals, education, and job history
  • The letter also explains why you are capable of successfully executing the position

Why do employers want a Cover Letter/ Job Application Letter?

  • They provide more complete information than a resume
  • They allow the employer to see if you can write
  • They give your employer a sense of you as a person
  • Ultimately, they help employer decide who might be a good fit and, thus, who to interview

Cover Letter Basics

What should my cover letter contain?

  • Heading
  • Introduction
  • Body paragraphs (support information)
  • Closing

What should my cover letter contain?

  • Heading
  • Introduction
  • Body paragraphs (support information)
  • Closing

What should my cover letter accomplish?

  • Show employer, you have tailored the letter to the company, job
  • Explain your experiences in a clear way that matches the information from your résumé
  • Explain your experiences that relate to the job you want
  • Explain how your experiences/skills will help the employer fulfill job requirements
  • Provide a good example of your communication skills

Headings should contain:

  • The date you are writing
  • Your mailing address
  • Email address (make sure your address sounds professional or use your siu.edu email)
  • Address of employer

The heading:

For your contact information, you will want to include the following:

  • Your name
  • The address where you can be reached
  • Phone number
  • Fax number (if applicable)
  • E-mail address

Then, you will skip a line and write the full date (month, day, year). Follow this by skipping a space and writing the contact information for the person to whom you are writing:

  • Name of the specific person
  • Title of that person (if available)
  • Address of the company

Introductions should:

  • Greet specific person (if possible)
  • State position you are applying for, how you heard about it
  • Explain why you are a good match for job, company
  • Introduce two examples from your résumé you will use to explain why you can do this particular job

Cover Letter Introduction

As the purpose of your introduction is to catch the reader's attention and make you stand out, you need to be as specific as possible in this section. Here are some tips on how to start your introduction:

State the university you attend, your major, and what position you are applying for (if you are a student).

Mention where you heard about the job.

Mention the name of a professor or other contact who has a positive connection with the company.

Bring up any previous conversations you have had with your reader (i.e., at a job fair).

Cover Letter Body Paragraphs:

Body paragraphs should:

  • Support your argument that you are qualified for a job, good match for company
  • Explain the two examples from your résumé you use to support your points

Body Paragraphs

  • In the body of your cover letter (the argument), you should describe the most important qualifications to show why you are a good match for the job and the company.
  • You should focus your cover letter's body around the two-three qualifications you mention in the introduction. In each paragraph you can concentrate on one quality, seeking to answer the following two questions:
  • How can I show I am qualified for this position and that I am a good match for the organization?
  • What have I done that illustrates these qualifications?

Body Paragraphs (con’t)

What have I done that illustrates these qualifications?

  • Along with explaining your skills, you want to describe how your experience with that skill is Many people may have communication skills, Demonstrate those skills by telling about a concrete time you used them to good effect; or demonstrate them by enumerating awards, positions held, distinctions? Be specific and match this information to your resume

Here are some ideas about what might set you apart:

  • Special projects
  • Explain course work that gives you a type of professional
    • Awards
  • Show that others have recognized the high quality of your
  • Include only those awards that relate to the position you
    • Accomplishments
  • Demonstrate how you improved efficiency/productivity at work or
  • Include what you did at school that proves your
  • Explain how you set a goal and reached Courtesy of Purdue OWL

Closings should:

  • Restate your qualifications
  • Ask for an interview
  • Provide contact information
  • Reference résumé
  • Thank employer
  • Close politely
  • Remember to sign your name, list enclosures

Closing Example

Example:

I am eager to speak with you and discuss my possible contribution to Country Press, as I feel my experiences in communication and customer service will be an asset to the company. I will be in touch with you within a week, and if you need to reach me, you can call 423-512-1143, or email me at anyone@anywhere.com. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Tips: Avoid weak language:

Example of weak language:

I worked as a ramp agent at Comair.

Strong language:

As a ramp agent, I assisted in loading baggage, oversaw fueling the aircraft, and stocked commissary items on the aircraft.

More Tips:

  • The letter should only be one page
  • The strongest and most relevant qualifications should be highlighted
  • Limit to a few qualifications
  • Easy to read
  • Begin with topic sentences
  • Appeal to company values, attitudes, goals, projects,
  • Explain how you will help the organization
  • Elaborate on the information in your résumé
  • Provide evidence of your qualifications
  • Proofread carefully for grammatical and typographical errors

What do I do about any times I was not working?

Short breaks in work experience shouldn’t hurt your chances

  • Be ready to talk about what you did:
  • Volunteerism
  • Faith-based activities
  • Family-related responsibilities

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