Cover Letters &
Smith Career Center
Thank you Notes
Because they are so critical to your success in obtaining interviews and to your ultimate goal
of accepting a job offer, all forms of written communication (either hard copy or email) must be
carefully thought out, composed, and edited. There are basically two types of letters:
A letter of inquiry (Prospecting Letter) is used to inquire if there are openings related to
your professional interests, educational background, skills, and abilities.
A cover letter (Letter of Application) is used as an introduction and should grab the
employer’s attention, highlighting why you -- above all other applicants -- are a great fit for
the position (and organization) and therefore should be contacted for an interview.
Recommendations for Effective Cover Letters
Personalize Each Letter: Address the letter to a specific individual using a name,
courtesy title (Dr., Mr., or Ms.) and job title. You can find this information on the employer’s
web site, through Google or LinkedIn, in the SCC or Cullom-Davis Libraries, or you may
need to call the organization. Avoid ineffective “GENERIC” letters (i.e. To Whom it May
Use Non-Sexist Language: If you do not know the contact person’s gender (e.g. Pat
Smith), it is appropriate to use “Dear Pat Smith” or a job title salutation like “Dear Director
of Human Resources” or “Dear Marketing Coordinator.”
Customize Each Letter: Modify your core set of facts and phrases depending on the
employer and type of job. DO NOT copy letters from books or other sources. Use the
employer’s name rather than the generic “your company.”
Give Examples: Provide specifics and highlight strengths and be clear about the aspects
of the position and organization that interest you. Draw a match between your background,
abilities, and interests and how they would meet the employer’s needs.
Vary the Writing Style: Offset long sentences with shorter ones to help create a more
interesting, effective letter. DON’T overuse “I” especially at the beginning of sentences.
Use Attention Getting Words: Use descriptive adjectives, action verbs, and
KEYWORDS. More employers are using electronic scanners to read and evaluate letters
and resumes, which may eliminate those without certain keywords.
Proofread: Don’t just rely on spell-check. Proofread for spelling by reading the letter
backwards from end to beginning, focusing on each word. Then proofread from beginning
to end for grammatical errors and flow.
Finish Strong: Prompt the reader to take action regarding your application, which should
ultimately result in an interview (Ex., I look forward to hearing from you soon.).
K:Info Guides 2014WebIG_job search letters.docx 7/21/2015
firstname.lastname@example.org • bradley.edu/scc • (309) 677-2510 • Burgess Hall, First Floor