How to Buff Up Your Cover Letter

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Before summer, you body isn't the only thing you need to buff up; your cover letter needs just as much work. With a little workout, you and your cover letter can be in tip-top shape with some help from George Washington University's Career Center.

The overall goal of your cover letter is to be a "sample of written communication skills" that highlights your expertise. The letter should be modeled in a one-page, three to four paragraph prose, in 10-12 point font. The body of the letter should be single-spaced with a double space between paragraphs. Each time you apply for a position, you should be revamping your cover letter to be customized to the employer and the specifics of the job.
 
Your cover, formatted as a business document, begins with your name and address. It should be followed by the date and also the name and address of your contact.
 
When greeting your letter, make sure to be professional yet personal. If you have met the contact already, you should especially begin your letter with  "Dear Mr. Employer."  If you do not have a name to head the letter to, begin with "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Human Resources Director."
 
Your first paragraph should explain why you are writing to the professional in the field and how you found out about the position. This is your time to name-drop that your uncle is best friends with the CEO or that your academic advisor personally recommended the position to you, since she is the wife of a partner.
In the second paragraph, you should describe the skills and accomplishments that you have that match the qualifications in the job description. Try to differentiate your cover letter from your resume by explaining something further or introducing something new all together. If necessary, this part can be two paragraphs long.
 
The final paragraph should include a request for an interview, job consideration, or other opportunity. Make sure to include your phone number and e-mail address.
Conclude with a salutation such as "Sincerely," "Best," or "Regards."
 
Here's an example:
 
123 Success Court
College Park, MD 20740
 
March 25th, 2011
Company XYZ
123 Corporate Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21403
 
To Whom It May Concern:
 
I first came across Company XYZ's position using my University's career searching tool. I am very excited to bring my already developed skills in developing presentations, marketing, and advertising to Company XYZ's Internship, as well as furthering these skills and gaining new knowledge in research and monitoring, selling materials, and performing detailed retail analysis. As a Marketing and Finance double major at the University of Maryland, I know my academic background as well as my extracurricular involvement will be an asset to Company XYZ.
 
In my Introduction to Business course, I was responsible for creating a fully developed business plan and compiling this information to present for fifteen minutes with a team of four others. Because I learned about the preparation and deliverance of presenting with this course and in other courses such as Introduction to Communications, I will be able to bring already developed presentation skills to Company XYZ and will be eager to improve upon these already established skills as well. 
 
In addition, the experiences I had with Company LMNOP's Marketing Internship during the summer of 2010 developed my skills in advertising, professional writing, company analysis, and event planning. I look forward to applying these skills that I have acquired through application in the field. Along with my enthusiasm for the field of Marketing, these skills will help me succeed at Company XYZ.
 
My resume is enclosed for your review. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss my qualifications further. I can be reached by phone at (123) 456-7890 or by email: [email protected] Thank you for your time and for your consideration!
 
Sincerely,
Awesome Student

Sophomore > Marketing and Finance > University of Maryland

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