COM Job Search Manual – Business Communication: Job Search Correspondence
Letters should be no more than one typed 8-1/2” x 11”page and contain three or four concise paragraphs. Type all letters on the same professional paper that you have for your resumes and use matching envelopes. Center the letter on the page and allow at least one-inch left and right margins.
Send handwritten thank-you notes for informal networking contacts only.
Edit and proofread all correspondence carefully for format, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and style.
Be aware that many employers skim the letter first for neatness and errors to determine whether they will even read your resume.
A form cover letter sent to 100 companies will generate a form response. A more workable and productive strategy is to target ten-15 organizations.
Then, homework can pay off. Before you compose your letter, research the organization and the job to understand the company or the manager’s needs and priorities. Review the web site, the annual report, articles in the press, and the job description.
Address each letter to a specific person; check directories or call the company to get the appropriate name and correct spelling. If you cannot find an appropriate contact, try CareerSearch on the University Career Center website or call or e-mail the company’s Human Resources Manager or College Relations Manager.
Use your one-page cover letter to establish goodwill and to define your personal advantages with the particular employer, to make a case for your fit with a particular industry, company, and job, and to try to get an interview or a referral to a hiring manager.
Focus on the employer’s needs by highlighting your relevant accomplishments and strengths. Choose three or four of your best selling points, preferably skills, for emphasis in the body of the letter and develop specific, explanatory, vivid examples to support your claim.
In a cover letter for an internship, focus on relevant coursework, papers, and projects and transferable skills.