Business LettersMany job seekers overlook the importance of submitting cover letters with their resumes. A great written cover letter will compliment and strengthen your resume. Often, the cover letter is the first thing a recruiter sees and can either make or break your first impression.

While a resume provides details to show you CAN do the work, a cover letter shows you WANT to do the work. Cover letters are used to introduce you to the prospective employer, highlight the most important details about you, and if well written, entice the reader to seriously review your resume. Continue reading below to learn how to write a cover letter, see examples of cover letters and to download a free cover letter template.

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Resume Cover Letter Template

Resume Cover Letter Template
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Looking for a change in employment? Use this free resume cover letter template to help you get started.

Looking for help on Resumes? Check out our tips and templates for resumes.

Cost: Free ($0.00)
License: Limited Use
Required: Microsoft Word® 2002(XP), 2003, 2007, 2010, or OpenOffice.org



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Cover Letter Objectives

Before writing a cover letter, make sure you have a clear understanding of the goals or objectives for the letter. These objectives include:

  • Introduce yourself and your resume
  • Explain your experience in more detail by providing pertinent stories or experiences
  • Provide a sample of your written communication
  • Hook the reader so they will want to read your resume

Personalize Your Cover Letter

Cover letters should be personalized as much as possible. Never send out the same cover letter twice. It may require you to do some research and to reach out to your network to make connections and introductions. Here are some things to include.

  • Make sure you tailor your letter to a specific individual and greet them by name.
  • If you don't have a name, then consider skipping the generic salutation.
  • Try to include details specific to the company or the position.
  • Provide a reference about how you heard about the job. This may include the date of the newspaper post or the online job reference number.
  • If you have had prior contact with the recipient, remind them of it in the introduction.
  • Be sure to mention any third parties that are recommending you or referring you for the position.
  • Consider listing the job you are applying for in a subject line.

Content

The main body of the cover letter should have appropriate content. Don't use it to simply recreate your resume. Pick 3 or 4 key traits, skills or attributes you really want to highlight and focus on those. Consider picking traits that may be most appropriate based on the job listing. Use experiences, stories and results to demonstrate your use or possession of the traits or attributes.

Closing

Make sure you end with a strong closing that is short and to the point. The time for details and stories has passed. Consider inviting them to read your resume and include a request for a response or an interview. You may decide to keep the ball in your court and simply inform them you will follow up with a phone call. And be considerate and thank them for their time.

Additional Cover Letter Writing Tips

  • Use a formal business letter structure - You are writing a letter, not a memo or email. Use a formal business letter template.
  • Avoid bad grammar and spelling. - Poorly written and edited letters can kill your chances before they even look at your resume. Consider hiring a professional to edit your cover letter.
  • Don't sound desperate Avoid sounding desperate by avoiding phrases such as "I really need this job" or "I hope you pick me".
  • Use formatting wisely - Use formatting such as bullets, italics, bold and font changes to draw attention to key items and to increase readability.
  • Avoid anything negative - Honesty about issues or special circumstances you face is important, but you don't have to mention it in your cover letter. Use interviews to provide these details.
  • Keep it short - Your letter should highlight and demonstrate, not bore and wander. Keep to the main points and be succinct.
  • Don't mess up in the delivery - Make sure your letter looks correct when printed. Consider using nicer paper for actual letters. When sending electronically, send it as a PDF since almost everyone has software to read a PDF file.
  • Avoid uncommon language - Avoid terms that are specific to past employers and not used my most people. This would include acronyms and company jargon.

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Sample Cover Letters


Sample Cover Letter for Recent Graduate

This is an example of a cover letter for a recent college graduate.

Bill Stevenson
123 Anywhere Street
Somewhereville, Best State 88889

4/1/2013

Mr. Ryan Francom
IT Manager
XYZ Aviation Company
456 Somewhere Road
Best Town, Best State 88888

Dear Mr. Francom,

In May, I will graduate from Tech University with a Master's of Science in Aeronautical Engineering. I am seeking to pursue my life long goal of becoming an aeronautical engineer for a world-class aviation company. Let me briefly highlight the skills, values and passion I will bring to XYZ Aviation Company.

  • Lifelong passion for all things aeronautical including receiving my pilot's license at the age of 15.
  • Solid understanding of aeronautical design processes and procedures gained at ABC Corp as a Level 1 engineer.
  • Ability to work with others on interdisciplinary design teams in order to meet goals and complete projects on time.
  • An aptitude for defining problems and identifying creative solutions while building consensus between all affected parties.
  • A hardworking and self-directed work ethic with a dedication to detail.

An interview to further review your needs and my skills would be mutually beneficial. Next week I will contact you to schedule an interview. I look forward to talking to you soon.

Sincerely,

Bill Stevenson

Enclosure

Example Cover Letter

This is an example of a cover letter written for a Director of Sales position.

Nancy Thompson
123 Anywhere Street
Somewhereville, Best State 88889

1/1/2013

Ms. Emily Smith
HR Manager
XYZ Company
456 Somewhere Road
Best Town, Best State 88888

Dear Ms. Smith,

Bob Jones, your IT director, suggested that I contact you regarding the recently listed Sales Director position. I would love to be an integral part of your leadership team and contribute my proven management skills, efficiency and productivity to your corporate goals.

Highlights of my 20 year career include

  • Over 10 years of experience managing direct sales staff with 20 years of marketing and sales experience.
  • Creation and implementation of a direct sales program with annual sales reaching $50 million in less than 4 years.
  • Deadlines met on time and in budget with a willingness to work with others to accomplish corporate tasks.
  • Led the successful acquisition and merger of ACME Companies catalog sales division with ABC Companies sales division.

I am confident my qualifications will allow me to add significant value to your company as the Sales Director. I will call you directly to schedule an appropriate time for us to speak about the challenges and opportunities your company faces and how I can contribute to your company's future growth and success. Thank you in advance for your time.

Sincerely,

Nancy Thompson

More Resume Cover Letter Templates

There are many sample letters of resignation in the Microsoft Office template gallery, under the category Cover Letters. Below are links to a few of them:

Additional Resources

Below are some additional resources to help you write a great cover letter for your resume. They contain additional writing guidelines and tips.



Disclaimer: The content on this page is intended for educational use and not to be construed as personal professional advice.

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