Structure of a Cover Letter
If you’re unsure how you’re actually going to write a cover letter, it can help to break the letter down into its various parts and concentrate on just one section at a time. Here’s what goes into each of the four main sections of a cover letter:
This is where you tell employers who you are, why you’re writing , and how you heard about the organization or the specific opening. The “who you are” part is a brief introduction of yourself with a phrase like: “I am a senior at XYZ University graduating in May with a major in biology.” Just mention the basic facts about you and your situation, choosing the ones that will be most relevant to the employer. The “why you’re writing” part is where you mention which position you are applying for, or what your job objective is if no specific opening has been advertised. Then be sure to tell them how you heard about the organization or the job. You might say, for example, “I saw your posting for a Marketing Assistant at the Career Services on Career Jamaica.” Or, “I read about the expansion of your East Coast operations in the Jamaica Gleaner and am interested in discussing entry-level opportunities you might have available.”
1. The Sales Pitch
It’s best to get right to the point. The objective of this part of the letter is to list–either in paragraph form or as an actual list of bullet points–the reasons why the reader should see you as a viable candidate. It’s best to start with a statement that provides an overview of your qualifications, then go into them more specifically, using the examples you identified before you started writing. A typical opening statement might sound something like: “As a political science major and former campaign volunteer for the Liberal party, I offer the following skills and accomplishments.”
2. The Flattery
This is the “why them” section of your letter. It’s where you flatter the reader a bit by commenting on something positive about the organization and letting them know why you would want to work there.
You might mention the organization’s reputation, sales record, size, corporate culture, management philosophy or anything else that they take pride in. Prospective employers like to know that you have chosen them for a reason and that they’re not just one of hundreds of companies you’re writing to as part of a mass mailing. (Even if you are doing a mass mailing, you must tailor each letter to “flatter” the reader and show that you’ve done some research on that organization or that person.)
A Request for Further Action
Some people think of this final section of a cover letter as the closing , but it’s much more than that . The closing paragraph isn’t just about thanking the reader for taking the time to read your letter or for considering you as a candidate for a job. It ’s also about where to go from here–about opening the door to fur ther contact . It’s where you suggest how to proceed, usually by saying that you will call or email the reader to follow up and see if a meeting can be arranged.
The important thing is to end the letter in an assertive, but courteous way by taking the initiative to follow up Once you’ve gotten these four sections of the letter completed in terms of content, go back and smooth out any rough edges of your writing and check for typos, misspellings and grammatical errors.
Then you’re ready for “Sincerely” or “Best Regards” and your signature,and you’re off and running on the road to a great job.