Preparing Your Cover Letter
You should almost always include a cover letter with job applications. It shows courtesy to the person reading your application and orients the reader what you have to offer as well as why you are interested in working for that particular organization.
Be specific. Try to do some research about the organization that you are applying to and be specific about what you like about that company. You will likely want to specify skills relevant to that organization, and tailor each cover letter slightly differently depending on what type of skills you think that that type of organization would look for in workers. Try to read through your cover letter and see if it sounds like a generic letter where it could have been written for any organization. If so, you will need to rewrite it and be more specific. You want the company and the person reading the letter to feel that they are indeed special, and that you have at least given them some thought when writing your cover letter about why you would like to work for them. If applying to a specific job ad, you should refer to what ad and where you saw the ad that you are applying to.
Address the letter to someone specific. It is much better to address it to someone whom you think the application would go to, even if it is only a guess, than merely a "To whom it may concern." If the letter does not actually go to that person, he or she will forward it to the appropriate individual.
Aim for the right length. Try not to be so long in the cover letter that you just keep droning on and on and bore your audience. At the same time, feel free to include relevant information and write a few paragraphs if you need to because that will help you establish rapport with someone whom you have never met in person. Sure, they're busy people, but if they happen to be interested in your application, they will want to read your cover letter in more detail before deciding whether or not to contact you. If you appear to be an outgoing, friendly person in your cover letter, you will have more chances of getting that interview.
Prepare your cover letter after your resume. You should prepare your resume first so that you have an idea what skills you have and whether they are a good match for the organization in which you are interested. It makes it a lot easier to write your cover letter after you have your resume all set in place because you can summarize whatever you feel to be pertinent in the cover letter after completing your resume.
Sell yourself. Don't be afraid to sell yourself and emphasize your strong points and qualities. It is good to be modest and humble, but when it comes to looking for a job, you are selling yourself. Do not be afraid to tell them about your accomplishments, and try to put your accomplishments in a good light - that it was a major accomplishment and that likely only you would have been able to get the job done. It may seem exaggerated a little bit when you read about it yourself, but when other people read it, it won't seem that exaggerated just because they're reading it from a different perspective.
Be formal. Be formal when writing your letter. Include the appropriate headers such as the date, the company name, the salutation, and the closing, etc. Write the word enclosure after your signature if you are attaching additional documents such as your resume. You may want to look up a standard template of a formal letter if you are unsure about how to lay out your letter. Do not use any slang or abbreviations. Remember also to check and double check for spelling, grammatical, and layout errors. It definitely helps to print out a copy to make sure that the layout is how you envision it to be.
In summary, to prepare a standard, but outstanding, cover letter,
A. Be specific.
B. Address the letter to someone specific.
C. Aim for the right length.
D. Prepare your cover letter after your resume.
E. Sell yourself.
F. Be formal.
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