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The salutation: the salutation should be typed two lines beneath the company's address, on the
left margin. It should begin with "Dear Mr." or "Dear Ms.," followed by the individual's last
name and a colon. A colon appears more businesslike than a comma. Even if you have
previously spoken with an addressee who has asked to be called by first name, you should never
use a first name in the salutation.
First paragraph: state immediately and concisely which position you wish to be considered for
and what makes you the best candidate for that position. If you are responding to a classified ad,
be sure to reference the name of the publication and the date the ad appeared. Keep the first
paragraph short and hard-hitting. Example: "Having majored in mathematics at Boston
University, where I also worked as a research assistant, I am confident that I would make a very
successful research trainee in your Economics Research Department."
Second paragraph: detail what you could contribute to this company, and show how your
qualifications will benefit this firm. If you're responding to a classified ad, specifically discuss
how your skills relate to the job's requirements. Remember, be brief! Few recruiters will read a
cover letter longer than half a page. Example: "In addition to my strong background in
mathematics, I also offer significant business experience, having worked in a data processing
firm, a bookstore and a restaurant. I am sure that my courses in statistics and computer
programming would prove particularly useful in the position of research trainee."
Third paragraph: describe your interest in the corporation. Subtly emphasize your knowledge
about this firm and your familiarity with the industry. It is common courtesy to act extremely
eager to work for any company where you apply for a position. Example: "I am attracted to Any
Bank by your recent rapid growth and the superior reputation of your Economic Research
Department. After studying different commercial banks, I have concluded that Any Bank will be
in a strong competitive position to benefit from upcoming changes in the industry, such as the
phasing out of Regulation X."
Final paragraph: in the closing paragraph, specifically request an interview. Include your
phone number and the hours when you can be reached or mention that you will follow up with a
phone call within the next several days to arrange an interview at a mutually convenient time.
Example: "I would like to interview with you at your earliest convenience. I am best reached
between 3:00 and 5:00 P.M. at (617) 555-1483."
If you are responding to a newspaper ad that asks for your salary requirements, you may decide
that you would rather discuss such matters at the job offer stage. However, not stating your
salary requirements when asked to do so may jeopardize your chances of even getting to an
interview. (This is particularly true of entry-level positions.) For example, your cover letter may
read, "I seek a starting salary between $18,000 and $20,000."
The closing: the closing should begin two lines beneath the body of the letter and should be
aligned on the left margin. Keep the closing simple--"Sincerely" suffices. Four lines underneath
this, and again on the left margin, type in your full name, preferably with a middle name or
middle initial. Sign above your typed name in black ink. Don't forget to sign the letter! As silly