What do I include in my cover letter heading?
The heading provides your contact information, the date you are writing, and the address of the company to which you are applying.
For your contact information, you will want to include the following:
- Your name
- The address where you can be reached (if you live at college, will it be more accessible to include the local address or your permanent address?)
- 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
Craig M. Leroix
2987 W. Taylor Dr.
Portland, OR 45720
February 2, 2005
Amy Kincaid, Human Resource Director
Western Electric, Inc.
387 Collier Lane
Atlanta, Georgia 30051
Job seekers at Purdue University may find value in the Purdue career Wiki here.
The following are additional Purdue OWL resources to help you write your cover letter:
- Cover Letter Workshop- Formatting and Organization
- Example Employment Documents
- Cover Letters 1: Quick Tips
- Cover Letters 2: Preparing to Write a Cover Letter
- Cover Letter Presentation
- Job Search Documents for Working Class Positions
To whom do I address my letter?
Whenever possible, address your letter to a specific individual, usually the person in charge of interviewing and hiring. Doing so will give you a greater chance of having your application packet read and not filed away automatically.
Here are some ideas on how to get the name of a specific person:
- Look in the job ad for the contact person.
- Call the company for more information.
- Research the company's website for the person in charge of the department you are applying to, or a person in Human Resources.
If you cannot find the name of that person, you may address your letter to a group. For example:
Dear Selection Committee:
If you find the name, but cannot decipher the gender of the person, you may greet that person using their full name instead of their last name. For example:
Dear Pat Thompson: (For Pat Thompson)
What do I include in my introduction?
The introduction of your cover letter should begin with a greeting to a specific person ("Dear Ms. Kincaid"), followed by a statement of who you are and why you are writing (why you are a good candidate).
How to catch the attention of the reader.
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).
How to make a strong claim for yourself.
After gaining the initial attention of the reader, you must make a strong claim about your candidacy and that you match the needs of the job and the company. Clearly state two-three qualifications you have that match the company/position. These qualifications will then be the focus of your body paragraphs and arguments. Some examples:
What do I include in my argument/body?
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?
How can I show I am qualified for this position and that I am a good match for the organization?
You do not want to only mention the skills that you possess; you also have to show that you possess them! When writing about your skills, you can think of it as telling a story. You should describe the experiences of how you received and grew your skills, mentioning specific places you worked and positions you held. For example:
My communication skills in the workplace have grown because of my internships. When I was an intern at Newberry & Jones, I wrote memos and letters to customers and colleagues on a daily basis. This experience taught me to write professionally and to-the-point.
What have I done that illustrates these qualifications?
Along with explaining your skills, you want to describe how your experience with that skill is unique. Many people may have communication skills, but have you won an award or scholarship for technical writing? 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 experience.
- Show that others have recognized the high quality of your work.
- Include only those awards that relate to the position you desire.
- Demonstrate how you improved efficiency/productivity at work or school.
- Include what you did at school that proves your skills.
- Explain how you set a goal and reached it.
While at Purdue University, I participated in a collaborative web-consulting project for a Technical Writing class. With two peers, I served as a web consultant for a local business, Patters' Painters. In order to make feasible recommendations for revisions, additions, and deletions to Patters' Painters' website, we conducted interviews, observed the workplace, and completed multiple web analyses...I believe these experiences match the requirements you outline in the job description.
What do I include in my closing?
A closing sums up your qualifications and reveals what you plan to do after your readers have receive your application packet (resume, cover letter, etc.)
Here are our recommended tips for closing your cover letter:
- Close with a strong reminder of why you are a good match for the job position and the organization.
- Request an interview in some way.
- Provide contact information.
- Thank them!
- Sign your name and print it underneath.
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 email@example.com. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Stating that you will contact the potential employer will cause them to read your application materials with more interest. Therefore, you have a better chance that your materials will not be filed away. By following up, you can achieve three goals:
- Inform the employers that you are still interested.
- Prove you can take the initiative to call.
- Discover where you are in the hiring process.
If you do not feel comfortable informing your readers when you will contact them, you may simply delete that part of the closing. For 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. Please contact me at 423-512-1143, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your time and consideration.