The Career Center has a number of valuable resources that can help you write cover letters and other employment-related letters. Our Career Resource Library has a number of excellent books on the subject, and trained staff are available to critique your cover letter on an appointment basis. (Call (207) 581-1359 to make an appointment for a resume or cover letter review.) In addition, check out these on-line guides for helpful hints:
Cover letters are equally important tools in the job search process. A dynamic cover letter that highlights your skills and what you can contribute to the employer invites her/him to read your resume for more detailed information. Effective cover letters should convey a sense of purpose, project enthusiasm for the position, and demonstrate a candidate’s knowledge of the employer’s goals and needs. Employer research conducted prior to writing a resume and cover letter can better inform you of their specific needs. The following are some basic hints to keep in mind when composing your letter:
- Address the letter to a specific person. This may require research on your part or a phone call to the company but will facilitate a more timely response from the employer. Be sure to indicate a specific job title for the person as well.
- Tailor your letter to the requirements of the position and the employer’s needs.
- Be sure to send a typed original cover letter with your resume. Do not send a photocopied or handwritten letter.
- Sound upbeat and confident-invite the employer to read your resume! Use the active voice for a more forceful approach.
- The letter should be easy to read, typed neatly on a single page (8 1/2 by 11) on good quality paper, and free of spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.
- Proofread your letter several times and make a copy to keep for your files.
Before mailing it, ask yourself:
- Is it clear? Will it impart my meaning to the reader?
- Is it concise? Do I say everything I want to say in the fewest words possible?
- Is it well organized? Am I including relevant ideas?
- Am I projecting to the employer the contribution I can make?
- Have I expanded on areas in my background that are particularly relevant to the position and employer?
To assist you in writing your cover letter, a few examples have been provided for your reference. Content for cover letters outlines the basic content information needed in each paragraph of your letter as well as the format. The sample letter of application is used to reply to an advertised opening in a newspaper, vacancy bulletin, journal, etc. It is used to respond to an expressed need of an employer. The letter of inquiry is used when you do not know if an opening exists but are interested in working for a particular employer.
Thank You Letters
Thank you letters should follow every interview as a professional courtesy. Use this protocol to your advantage, keeping in mind the following potential elements of such letters:
- To express genuine appreciation for the employer’s time and consideration.
- To reaffirm your interest in the position and to cite additional qualifications you may not have discussed thoroughly in the interview.
- To clarify information that may not have been positively conveyed.
- To confirm your understanding of the next step in the application process.
- To include your expense statement and any other details of your visit.
In some instances, thank you letters serve another purpose. Some employers fail to respond expeditiously to job candidates and need a nudge. A polite way to nudge the employer to act is to enclose an updated resume or to comment about any new developments since the initial interview. Another approach is to say that another employer is pressing and a decision is necessary.
‘Thank You’ Letter Format
City, State, Zip
Date of writing
City, State, Zip
It was a pleasure to visit you and to meet the members of your staff. I was pleased with the opportunity to get a closer look at (name of organization) and to hear of the many ventures being undertaken.
2nd paragraph-(See suggestions below for possible applicable paragraphs.)
I was most impressed with your organization, especially in the area of quality control. As I understand, you will contact me within a month regarding further consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you again for the interview.
Your name, typed
Paragraph to add information not covered in the interview:
In reviewing the interview, I was aware that we did not discuss the area of ___________________. I would like to add that my summer employment provided an opportunity for development of some expertise in the _____________ aspect of ______________.
Paragraph to cover information unsatisfactorily presented in the interview:
In reviewing the interview, I feel that I did not accurately answer your question about travel, schedule requirements, etc. I may have conveyed hesitancy about travel, or extra working hours or other special considerations. Your subsequent explanations and descriptions of the job helped me realize that I would find the situations mentioned to be acceptable.
Other Employment Letters
I. Accepting Invitation
- Express appreciation for opportunity to visit facilities
- Suggest time convenient for your visit or confirm any already agreed upon date.
- Note whether overnight accommodations are necessary
- Advise employer regarding travel arrangements and arrival time
- NOTE: Call employer if any doubt about who will pay and for what
II. Reaffirming Interest/Thank You
- Express thanks and appreciation
- Reiterate interest and basis of interest
- Include information that would support application that did not come out in the interview. Be brief.
- Attach copy of expense records if letter is in response to second interview
III. Acknowledging Offer
- Acknowledge your receipt of offer
- Establish your understanding of the particulars of the offer: salary, job title, starting date, etc.
- Indicate whether acceptance date is reasonable or if an extension is needed. (extension can also be requested at a later date)
IV. Accepting an Offer
- Acceptance is a binding commitment to employer
- Establish your understanding of the details of the offer, salary, etc.
- Discuss physical exam, if required, and starting date
V. Declining Offer or Invitation
- Clearly decline offer
- Express appreciation for offer and company’s interest in you
- Note difficulty of decision
Summary of Correspondence Tips
- Use a standard business style format and 8 1/2″ X 11″ paper.
- Type all letters. Employers type even personal notes, so follow suit
- Address letters to a particular individual, and use his/her correct title.
- Never duplicate a letter; each must be an original.
- Make paragraphs average in length.
- Always send a letter with a resume, never a resume alone.
- Check your work carefully for grammar and spelling. It is a good idea to have someone else proofread it.
- Be wary of suggestions to use gimmicky attention-getters, overzealous or desperate sounding phrases, and exaggerated praise of the employer.