Cover Letter Essentials: Laying the Foundation

Matthew Keegan

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Including a cover letter with your résumé is an essential part of the application process. In effect, your cover letter allows for your résumé to gain access to those with hiring authority thereby preventing it from being relegated to some dead file drawer or summarily tossed altogether. Before you even begin to write your cover letter there are some things you must know first. Let’s take a look at those foundational essentials that can make or break your quest toward finding work:

The paper you use for your résumé must match the paper you use for your cover letter. White with white is preferable with business paper recommended. Paper containing 100% cotton has the right texture and the correct look for any cover letter and résumé. Photo copy paper is not advised as it sends a signal to recruiters that you pay little attention to detail!

Use a matching business envelope; a #10 size envelope is acceptable. Tri-fold your copies separately; when you set the cover letter within the envelope, make certain that the letter is displayed on top [as when the flap of the envelope is raised up] followed by your résumé. Fold it so that your name and contact information is the first bit of information that the recruiter sees. If you elect to go with a heavy-duty kraft-type envelope please make sure that it is no smaller than 9x12 [too tight] or any larger than 10x13 [too bulky]. Include an attractive looking computer generated label on the face of the envelope with your return address displayed in the appropriate place. If you must write on the label [meaning, you do not have access to a computer or to a printer] then carefully print your information; be legible and avoid cursive. You not only want the post office to get the envelope to the correct company, but once it has arrived at that company you will want their mailroom department to have the ability to direct it to the correct department.

If you choose to email your personal information determine in advance that attachments are permissible. If they are not, make sure that you avoid sending attachments. A tip: following directions, especially seemingly inconsequential details, is a large part of the screening process. Take care that you follow every detail precisely. Alternately, submit your information within the body of an email message where you can write your cover letter [a brief introduction] and then cut and paste your resume. To ensure that the company receives your information, you can follow up and mail over professional copies if an address has been supplied.

So, there you have it. All the procedural steps toward preparing and sending your cover letter were listed herein. As for the details of what goes on your cover letter, I will save that information for another article. In the meantime, please follow these instructions to a “t” to ensure that your cover letter is received as a valuable complement to your résumé.

Copyright 2005 -Matthew Keegan is The Article Writer who writes on a variety of topics including: advocacy, automobiles, aviation, business, Christian themes, family, news, product reviews, travel, writing, and more. Samples from his portfolio are available right online .


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