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Writing The Perfect Cover Letter

Writing the perfect cover letter is difficult. If you’re sending out an unsolicited cover letter (meaning, the company has no job offerings listed on their website, but you’re sending your cover letter and resume in just in case they are looking for someone with your potential) is wasted effort right now. The job market is tight right now, so make every cover letter you write count.

Step 1: Typeface

Make sure you write with a nice, classic serif typeface. By that, I mean one of the fonts that have tiny brackets or details at the end of the letters. The most common example of this is Times New Roman. But you don’t want to be typical when writing your cover letter, so use something more personalized and interesting like Adobe Garamond Pro. Websites like DaFont have a whole slew of free, downloadable fonts, but I recommend not going too overboard and too eclectic. The cover letter should still be professional.

Step 2: The Header

Make sure your name is bolded, underlined, capitalized, and larger than any of the other letters on the page. Don’t go over 20 point font though. You want to make sure the page is mostly filled with selling yourself and your experience, not just your bolded name. Also in your header, include all the most important information to get in touch with you: phone number, e-mail address, home and school address (both, and include dates for when you can be reached at either one) and website or Flickr link, if you are applying for a design job and they want to see your work.

Step 3: The Address

Find out who you should be addressing this letter to! If it’s impossible to find out who will actually be reading your application, write “Dear Sir/Madam:” NOT “To whom it may concern”. “To whom it may concern” seems like a ransom or death notice, and you do not want to associate your cover letter with either of those!

Step 4: The Opening Paragraph

Make sure you introduce yourself and your pertinent location/background to give them a sense of who you are and who they are “talking” to. Remember, the cover letter is really a dialogue (which will hopefully lead to more dialogues with the company!). Make sure they know who they’re talking to. Keep the opening paragraph short, and finish with a summation of why you are applying for a certain job. Make sure you mention which job you are applying for, in case there are multiple job offerings that the employer is reviewing.

Step 5: The Body Paragraph

This should be one large paragraph (between 8-10 sentences) detailing at least 2 of the most important experiences you’ve had that are relevant to the job. Start with the most important example first. You want to make the employer want to keep reading to hear about your amazing experiences and skills. Really play up what you learned from the experience and what important skills you have because of it.

Step 6: The Sign-Off

Make sure you sign your name! If you’re e-mailing in the cover letter, print out the page, sign it, and photocopy it back into your computer afterwards.

Best of luck!!!

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