by Dana Loewy
Sending a cover letter that highlights your skills and experience as they pertain to a specific job can be a great way to spur a potential employer to both read your resume and even call you for an interview. However, not all cover letters are created equal. Remember the following when you compose a cover letter aimed toward a specific position.
- Use your own letterhead with an interesting design.
- Address the reader by name and title.
- Craft a catchy opening that identifies the position to which you are applying.
- Refer to your résumé and discuss how your education supports your candidacy.
- Show enthusiasm for the job you are seeking.
- Tailor your relevant skills and experience closely to the job requirements, and provide details that support your claims.
- Close by reiterating your desire for the job and ask for an interview.
Your Task: With a classmate, read Joanna E. Houston’s cover letter. Then identify the elements that make her letter successful. Do you think Joanna landed an interview?
Instructors: Download the original letter and an annotated version here.
Marilyn, I goofed and will change the letter to avoid confusion. I put my own personal preference ahead of the simple, general rule. Here is what happened: When I worked as a secretary a million years ago, it was drilled into me that I could open any letter that was addressed to the company first with an attention line second that specified the employee for whom the letter was intended. The attention line with the recipient’s name in second place after the company name meant the letter was addressed to a specific person but could also be opened and handled by others in the organization. However, whenever a company employee’s name was listed first as recipient, those letters could not be opened by anyone but the addressee because they were deemed private, sometimes also identified as “c/o,” care of. In both cases the recipient would be addressed by name in the salutation because that personalizes the letter. Sorry about the slip-up and thank you for noticing and commenting on it! –Dana