Writing a cover letter to send with your résumé can be both confusing and frustrating. What exactly should you say? Are you saying too much? Are you only speaking about your needs vs. the company’s needs? Oh, what to do! In this “short” piece, I will list some ideas on how to craft your cover letter. I have also provided some important links — for additional assistance — particularly if you find yourself still needing outside help.

Basics

* Make sure you use exactly the same type of paper you use for your résumé. White with white is best, business paper is strongly advised, especially paper containing 100% cotton. Cheap 20 lb. copier paper is a terrible idea!

* A matching business envelope {#10} is acceptable. Tri-fold your copies separately; when you place the cover letter inside the envelope, make sure that the letter is shown first [when you lift the flap of the envelope up] followed by your résumé. Fold it so that your name and contact information is the first thing the recruiter sees. If you choose to use a kraft envelope make sure that is no smaller than 9×12 or bigger than 10×13. Place an attractive computer generated label on it with your return address shown appropriately. If you must write on it, PRINT your information and do not be fancy. Remember: you want the post office and the company’s mailroom to be able to read what you wrote! Otherwise, important time may be lost in the process.

* If you are emailing your information make sure that the job listing stipulates that attachments are okay. If not, don’t you dare send attachments! Instead, within the body of an email message you can write your cover letter [a brief introduction] and then cut and paste your résumé. I cannot tell you how many files never get read when the person does not do as instructed. You can also follow up and mail in a hard [paper] copy if an address is provided.

Beginnings

* Match the header on your résumé with the header on your cover letter. They can and do get separated! An example header should look like this:

Jane Doe

14 Star Lane

Smithville, NC 27777 USA

Telephone: 919-555-1212

Cell Phone: 919-555-1213

Email: jdoe@nc.rrs.com

* Include your personal website address only if that information is valuable. If you host a site that is weird, inflammatory, adult oriented, or otherwise controversial, simply do not expect any response from the company.

* Put today’s date on the cover letter.

* Next, include your contact’s information, which can include:

Ms. Ellen Snow

Human Resources Coordinator

FlyByNight Aviation, Inc.

1234 Orville Wright Lane

Serendipity, NC 27776

* Your salutation comes next and should look like this

— Dear Ms. Snow:

Body

* Keep in mind that your cover letter must not be lengthy. You can say all that must be said in no more than three, maybe four, brief paragraphs.

* Here is a sample:

Attached, please find a copy of my résumé for your review. I am interested in the position of corporate flight attendant listed online at http://www.flybynight.com.

I believe my three years of international flying experience along with my culinary background and language skills makes me the ideal candidate to serve FlyByNight’s distinguished clientele. Currently, I work as an independent contractor and have flown to top destinations in Europe as well as throughout the U.S. and Canada. FlyByNight’s need for a dependable, trained, and highly experienced team player is exactly the type of position I desire.

I look forward to meeting with you in person to discuss your particular needs and how I can help FlyByNight successfully carry out its mission as the best operator of private jets in the world. Feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience; I can be reached at 919-555-1212 or by on cell phone at 919-555-1213.

Byes

* Sincerely,

Jane Doe

Leave 3-4 lines from your “Sincerely” to your name. Your closing shouldn’t include other words including Regards [too plain], Cheers! [too British], Love [too personal], etc. Remember, this is a business letter.

In summation, keep it short and specific. Have three or four main points you can emphasize about your strengths, particularly, those points which match with the points listed by the company in their job details. In this particular case the candidate emphasized her culinary, language, and international travel experience, as well as her availability. All four points were stressed in the company’s job listing which read:

“…international jet operator is searching for an experienced cabin attendant. This position involves serving our on demand charter clients from east coast locations to destinations in the U.S. and abroad. Must have exceptional food service skills. Current training with FACTS, FlightSafety or similar training vendor; French or Spanish language skills: a plus…

You cannot avoid talking about yourself, but you can control how you talk about yourself.

Do not…

1. …beg for an interview.

2. …mention money or benefits. If the job listing “demands” that you list your salary requirements, simply state that salary is negotiable.

3. …overly boast about your skills: think about what the company’s needs are, do you think they care that you were the recipient of an NBAA scholarship? It is, however, okay to list scholarship awards on your résumé.

4. …name drop. Unless, you already come highly recommended by someone they know and like. Your mentor may be well known in this industry, but not universally liked. You can use them on your list of references, however.

Tying it all together, this is what your cover letter could look like:

Jane Doe

14 Star Lane

Smithville, NC 27777 USA

Telephone: 919-555-1212

Cell Phone: 919-555-1213

Email: jdoe@nc.rrs.com

March 21, 2005

Ms. Ellen Snow

Human Resources Coordinator

FlyByNight Aviation, Inc.

1234 Orville Wright Lane

Serendipity, NC 27776

Re: Corporate Flight Attendant Opening [this is optional, but it can be helpful especially if the company has multiple openings available.]

Dear Ms. Snow:

Attached, please find a copy of my résumé for your review. I am interested in the position of corporate flight attendant listed online at http://www.flybynight.com.

I believe my three years of international flying experience along with my culinary background and language skills makes me the ideal candidate to serve FlyByNight’s distinguished clientele. Currently, I work as an independent contractor and have flown to top destinations in Europe as well as throughout the U.S. and Canada. FlyByNight’s need for a dependable, trained, and highly experienced team player is exactly the type of position I desire.

I look forward to meeting with you in person to discuss your particular needs and how I can help FlyByNight successfully carry out its mission as the best operator of private jets in the world. Feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience; I can be reached at 919-555-1212 or by on cell phone at 919-555-1213.

Sincerely,

Jane Doe

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