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Cover Letter Writing

Job search letters are the written communications you will have with potential employers as you conduct a job search. These letters will often make a difference in whether or not you are considered for a position. Remember, since your job search letters will be seen as a sample of your written communication skills, you must proofread your letters carefully for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.

Cover Letters

The purpose of cover letters is to market your qualifications and communicate your skills, accomplishments and potential to the employer. It should also highlight experiences most relevant to the job/employer. A cover letter should always accompany a resume that is sent in the mail. Avoid generic letters; tailor each cover letter to the position for which you are applying. A cover letter should:

* catch the reader’s attention
* motivate the reader to want to know more (review resume)
* move the reader to take action (schedule an interview)

Format

The first paragraph:
Introduce yourself (name, university, major, graduation date). State the position for which you are applying and how you learned of the position. Mention informal connections if any exist. It is likely that the recipient will pay closer attention when seeing the name(s) of people he/she knows.

The middle paragraph(s):
Express your interest in the company and give reasons why you are interested in a particular kind of work. Subtly emphasize your knowledge about the organization (the result of your research effort on the company) and your familiarity with the industry. Emphasize the skills and capabilities that you have that fit the job for which you are applying. Focus on your education and/or experience as it relates to the position–Use a job description to match your skills to the required qualifications. Relate how your skills and qualifications will contribute to the position and organization.

The closing paragraph:
Refer to your enclosed resume and close with a statement expressing your desire to arrange an interview. State your telephone number, email and availability, and thank the reader for their consideration.

Tips

* Address a specific person by name and title
* Type in standard business format
* Convey enthusiasm and commitment
* Link your experience and abilities with the needs of the employer
* Use “I” only when necessary. Try not to start each sentence with “I”
* Be brief and focused
* Use 3-4 short paragraphs and do not go over one page
* Print on letter-quality paper that matches your resume
* Sign your name by hand
* When writing an email, conciseness is very important as well as a formal style

Sample Cover Letter 1

10801 Maple Street
Austin, Texas 78748

August 14, 200X

Mr. John Smith
XYZ Pharmaceuticals
12345 Main St.
Chicago, IL 12345

Dear Mr. Smith:

I am applying for the position of systems analyst, which was advertised in the Austin American Statesman on August 1. The position seems to fit very well with my education, experience, and career interests.

With a major in computer science, I have training on a variety of software programs and applications. My practical experience in y university’s computer center as a programmer and as a student consultant for system users gave me valuable exposure to complex computer operations. Additionally, I worked as a cooperative education student in computing operations for a large bank, where I gained knowledge of financial systems.

I have enclosed my resume for your review. My background and career goals seem to match your job requirements well, and I am confident I can perform the job effectively.

I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and discuss how my qualifications meet your needs. Please feel free to contact me at (512) 123-4567 or via email at johndoe@utexas.edu.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

John Doe

Sample Cover Letter 2

10801 Maple Street
Austin, Texas 78748

August 14, 200X

Ms. Kathryn Roberts
XYZ Pharmaceuticals
12345 Main St.
Chicago, IL 12345

Dear Ms. Roberts:

I have read with great interest the position listed on your corporate website for a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative.With this letter and the attached materials, I would like to formally apply for the position.

Among the qualifications you list in your position description, you seek someone with excellent verbal and written communication skills, sales experience, teamwork skills, and someone who is self-motivated. As detailed on my resume, I believe my academic, extracurricular, and work experiences meet your expectations. The curriculum for biology majors at UT requires an understanding of human physiology. As president of the Natural Sciences Council, I was responsible for leading weekly meetings and working with other groups on campus. Regarding sales experience, for two summers, I worked for a small retail firm where I became very knowledgeable about our product lines in order to best meet the specific needs of each customer. Finally, as my sorority’s community outreach chairperson, I coordinated a small team of volunteers who in turn organized a sorority-wide fundraiding project that netted over $10,000 to support local charity.

I look forward to talking with you regarding my interests in working for your company. If I do not hear from you eforehand, I will contact you by telephone in the next two weeks to see if you require any additional information regarding my qualifications.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of my credentials.

Sincerely,

Megan Smith

(adapted from monstertrak.com)

Thank-you letters

The purpose of such letters is to thank people who have assisted you in your job search (an interviewer, informational interviewee, contact, a person who wrote a recommendation letter for you etc.). This small act will set you apart from other candidates who fail to write such letters.

Tips

* Be brief
* Thank the person for his/her time and interest in you
* Letters can be typed or hand-written (email is acceptable when all other contact has been emailed or when time is of the essence)
* Mention something that was discussed and use it as an opportunity to affirm your continued interest
* Add any relevant information not covered during the interview
* Refer to any agreed upon action
* Mail within twenty-four to forty-eight hours after the conversation or interview

Sample Thank-You Letter

10801 Maple Street
Austin, Texas 78748

August 14, 200X

Mr. John Smith
XYZ Pharmaceuticals
12345 Main St.
Chicago, IL 12345

Dear Mr. Smith:

I want to thank you for interviewing me yesterday for the systems analyst position. I enjoyed meeting you and your staff and learning more about your work.

My enthusiasm for the position and my interest in working for XYZ were strengthened as a result of the interview. I think my education and experience fit nicely with the job requirements, and I am sure that I could make a significant contribution to the company.

I want to reiterate my strong interest in the position and in working with you and your staff. If I can provide you with any additional information, please contact me at (512) 123-4567.

Again, thank you for the interview and your consideration.

Sincerely,

John Doe

Networking letters

The purpose of networking letters is to generate information interviews, not job interviews. Information interviews are a valuable way to gain information about the job market, organizations, potential employers, and job vacancies that will enable you to focus your job search around your interests, skills, and experience. Informational interviews can generate other job search contacts, and possibly you might become aware of current positions within the organization.

Tips

* Introduce yourself and mention the contact you have in common.
* Request a brief meeting and indicate when you will follow-up with a phone call.
* Do not include a resume, but take it with you to the meeting in case a copy is required.

Sample Networking Letter

10801 Maple Street
Austin, Texas 78748

August 14, 200X

Mr. John Smith
XYZ Pharmaceuticals
12345 Main St.
Chicago, IL 12345

Dear Mr. Smith:

Mary Jane suggested I contact you for information about your career. I am majoring in biology at the University of Texas at Austin and considering a career as a soil conservationist. In addition to using the Web and reading various publications, I would like to learn more through interviewing individuals, like yourself, who are currently working in the field.

I know you are extremely busy, but would it be possible to schedule an appointment with you to conduct an information interview? The appointment, of course, would be at your convenience and should last no more than thirty minutes.

I will contact you next week to determine if we can schedule an appointment. I appreciate your assistance and look forward to meeting with you.

Sincerely,

John Doe
Prospecting letters

The purpose of prospecting letters is to inquire about possible vacancies in your occupation, have your resume read, and to generate interviews; used extensively for long-distance searches.

Tips

* Target specific individuals in specific organizations
* Structure like a cover letter
* Focus on broad occupational aspects to describe how your qualifications match the work environment.

Sample Prospecting Letter

10801 Maple Street
Austin, Texas 78748

August 14, 200X

Mr. John Smith
XYZ Pharmaceuticals
12345 Main St.
Chicago, IL 12345

Dear Mr. Smith:

While doing research on the various high tech industry, I read about your company and would like to inquire about employment opportunities in the area of computer science.

I May, I will receive my B.S. degree in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to my coursework, I have also had the opportunity to gain valuable experience as an intern with ABC Corporation. My internship further convinced me to pursue a career in the high-tech industry. When I researched the top high tech firms, XYZ Company emerged as having a strong market position, an excellent training program, and a reputation for excellent customer service. In short, your company provides the kind of professional environment that I seek.

My resume is enclosed for your consideration. My education and experience seem to match the qualifications you seek in your employees. In addition, I offer excellent communication and interpersonal skills, fluency in Spanish, and a willingness to relocate.

I welcome the opportunity to learn more about the employment possibilities at XYZ and shall call next week to determine if we can schedule an appointment. If you need to contact me before then, I can be reached in the evening at (512) 123-4567.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

John Doe

Follow-up letters

The purpose of follow-up letters is to inquire about the status of your application.

Tips

* Recap history of application/interview
* Reiterate your interest in the position and employer
* Request status of application/why you need clarification
* Thank the employer for their cooperation
* Keep a positive tone!

Acceptance letters

The purpose of acceptance letters is to confirm your acceptance of an offer to join an organization.

Tips

* Be prompt
* Express pleasure/appreciation at the opportunity to join the organization
* Confirm start-date and any other terms of employment
* Request any information needed

Rejection letters

The purpose of rejection letters is to decline an offer of employment.

Tips

* Be prompt
* Express appreciation for the offer and the interest shown in you
* State your reason for declining nicely; don’t burn bridges

When replying to a rejection letter, stay positive, do not burn bridges and state your continued interest in the organization.

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