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What Should a Cover Letter Include?

written by: Janelle Martel•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 4/10/2012

Cover letters are usually the first thing a prospective employer will look at in your application package, so it is important to make a good first impression. Read on to learn about what should a cover letter include to help you land the job.

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    Contact Information

    Employers receive many cover letters. Make sure yours includes all your information. This is an important section and there are some things to keep in mind. First of all, your signature block should include your full name, address, phone numbers, and e-mail address. Be sure to include more than one phone number if you frequently switch between your home phone and cell phone, for example. It is important to include an address because employers do take your location into mind. If a prospective employee lives out of state then employers will have to consider relocation or telecommuting.

    Before including an email address take a second to make sure it sounds professional. Ideally, it should be some combination of your name. Try to avoid using number combinations because these can be easily mis-keyed. The more professional looking the e-mail address, the better.

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    Strong Formatting

    There are a few different ways you can format a cover letter but it is extremely important to keep your cover letter easy to read and professional looking. Choose a font carefully. This is not the time for fancy fonts, but rather for more standard and professional fonts. Also, be sure to keep your font size relatively easy to read - size 10 or 12 are usually recommended. Formatting should include your contact information, the employer's address block, and the date. Be sure to use a standard letter format as well, these cover letter format guidelines should help to refresh your memory.

    It is also very important to address your letter directly to the person hiring. "To whom it may concern" or "dear human resources" look unprofessional or as though you are using a stock cover letter. Some quick research on the company's website or a phone call should help you obtain this information.

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    Your Skill Set

    One of the goals of a cover letter is to explain why you are right for this position. Therefore, it is very important to highlight your skill set. However, don't go for generic terms, such as good communication skills. Rather, demonstrate how your skills suit this position. Read over the job posting to determine what the employer is looking for and explain how you satisfy these requirements. Also, be specific. Use concrete examples when introducing your background and discussing your skills.

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    Interview Request

    Probably the biggest goal of a cover letter is to gain an interview with the prospective employer and a chance to explain your skills. Be sure to end your cover letter with a request for an interview. Indicate that you will call to check in within a few days, and make sure to do so. Employers will appreciate your enthusiasm and this will prove that you are serious about the position.

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