Before sending your letter, be sure you've included all of the cover letter components.

  • Appropriate Length of Letter - One page of three or four brief paragraphs.
  • High Quality Paper - 20-25% bond paper. Colors: Ivory, Pale Gray, or White (most conservative).
  • Letter Quality - Font Style: Times Roman, Helvetica, Presentation, etc. Font size: 10 or 12 point. Presentation: laser-printed or type-set.
  • Balanced Page - Center the letter on the page; use standard business format (Full Block, Modified Block).
  • Name, Address, and Telephone Numbers - Current address and date appear in the standard address block at the top of the page.
  • First Paragraph - Answer the reader's question, "Why am I reading this letter?", preferably in the first or second sentence. Bold or otherwise highlight the title of the position for which you are applying.
  • References - Make note of any connection between you and the reader in the first paragraph.
    "John Doe referred me to you..."
    "Professor Jane Doe of Bucknell University's English Department suggested that I contact you regarding..."
    "I recently read a Business Week article about XYZ Corporation's international expansion and am writing to..."
    If John Doe refers you to the employer, consider sending Mr. Doe a "cc" (carbon copy) of the cover letter. Add "cc: John Doe" at the bottom of your letter, after "Enclosure."
  • Second and Third Paragraphs - Market yourself, briefly describing your strongest qualifications for the position. Highlight a particularly relevant experience. Make sure your recent degree is noted here if not in the first paragraph. As in the résumé, focus on transferable skills, accomplishments, results and strengths. Be positive about your abilities and their relevance to the position.
  • End with an Active Statement of What You Will Do Next - Avoid stating "I will wait to hear from you." Instead, indicate that you will call to check on the status of your application, to discuss the position further, to arrange a meeting, or to do whatever seems appropriate for the particular situation.
  • Enclosures - Indicate that your résumé is enclosed. Transcripts, writing samples, references or other documents may be requested, though probably not until later in the application process. Add "enclosures" or "Enc." at the end of the letter, after the signature block.
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