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Cover Letters: General Considerations and Tips

A cover letter is a necessary business letter that accompanies your resume whether you mail, email, or fax your application and/or resume. Its purpose is to introduce your resume, express your personality and enthusiasm for the position, and provide support for your candidacy that is not covered by your resume. Writing a cover letter can be a challenging and time-consuming task, especially when you must customize it towards each organization. The following suggestions are offered when writing a cover letter:

  • If sending via snail mail make sure that each letter uses the same font and high quality paper as the resume.
  • If printing out use 1 inch margins all the way around, and print on high quality resume paper (8" x 11") using a laser printer or high quality bubble-jet.
  • Please be sure to proof your letter for grammar and spelling errors! Or have someone else proof it for you. There's nothing worse than a spelling mistake or typo on a job application!
  • Be brief and concise; the cover letter/e-mail should be approximately 1 page in length.
  • Expand on your resume, rather than repeat the resume's content.
  • Individualize and target each cover letter to the position you seek; remember you are trying to convince someone why you're the best person for that particular job.
  • Be sure to market yourself. Explain what you can offer the company; not what the company can do for you.
  • Always include a cover letter with your resume, whether it is mailed, e-mailed, or faxed!
  • If mailed or faxed remember to sign the cover letter.
  • If e-mailing your cover letter remember to "attach" your resume and any other documentation as outlined by the employer in their application instructions. If they want your resume as an ASCII text file then send it that way. If you can't follow their instructions, they probably won't hire you

Cover Letters - The Whole Purpose

  • Your cover letter should explain why you are sending your resume. Never send a resume without a cover letter, unless you are explicitly asked not to by an employer's application instructions. Don't make the reader guess what you are asking for - be specific! Tell the employer you are writing about the part-time summer elementary opportunity or the permanent position in secondary science advertised on the Education Canada Network site. Or are writing because you didn't see any positions in grade 4 physical education on the Education Canada Network and you would like to know of any upcoming opportunities in school district #45.
  • Always state specifically how you learned about the position or the organization -- the Education Canada Network, your university academic advisor, your neighbor Mrs. Blake. It is always appropriate to mention the name of someone who suggested that you write.
  • Remember you are trying to convince the reader to look at your resume. The cover letter is the first impression - there are no second chances for a first impression! The cover letter must be well written and targeted specifically to the employer you are writing.
  • Call attention to the highlights of your background -- education, experience, leadership roles -- which are relevant to the position you are applying for. Be specific and use examples.
  • States exactly what is enclosed or attached -- resume, practicum report, list of references, transcripts forthcoming etc., so that the employer knows what you included in your application package.
  • Provides additional information not referred to or requested in the application such as your availability date for an interview and/or start date and when you will follow up via mail/e-mail or telephone.

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