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Practical English Usage
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Cover letter writing and formatting tips
Use a white bond paper to write your cover letter. Note that a resume cover letter should fit on one side of the paper.
Address your cover letter to the appropriate person. List his / her correct position. For example, ‘Mr. James Albert, director of personnel.’
Your cover letter salutation should be ‘Dear Mr. Albert’. When the interviewer is a woman use the title Mrs. (for married women) or Miss (for unmarried women). If you don’t know whether a female interviewer is married or not, use the salutation ‘Dear Ms. (surname)’. Use a colon after the name.
Formatting a cover letter
A resume cover letter is a business or formal letter. It must be formatted like any other formal letter. Do not indent paragraphs. Instead, use block paragraphs with spaces in between them. Ideally, a cover letter should consist of three paragraphs.
In the introduction paragraph, state the position you are applying for. You must also state why are applying for it and how you learned about it. Should you drop a name? Well, it isn’t exactly necessary, but if you know someone who is willing to recommend you for the position, you may drop his / her name. Just make sure that you have permission to do so.
In the first paragraph, you may also say something nice about the company. Of course, you will need to do a little research to find out more about the company and its work ethics. Close the first paragraph by saying that you are a strong candidate for the position because of your educational qualifications and work experience.
In the second paragraph you have to briefly expand on your qualifications. Highlight those skills that match the employer’s specific needs. For example, a pleasing personality and good communication skills are essential for a career in sales and marketing, but they aren’t exactly necessary for a back-office job. Mention only those skills that will give the impression that you are the perfect candidate for the job. Additionally, your cover letter should draw attention to other key parts of your resume.
In the closing paragraph boldly restate that you are a strong candidate for the job position. Close your cover letter by stating that you are looking forward to meeting with him / her.
End your cover letter with:
A comma isn’t necessary after sincerely, but you can use it if you want to. Leave three lines (hit the ‘enter’ key four times) and then write your full name.
After you have finished writing, read it again. Look out for spelling, grammatical or typo errors. Careless grammatical and spelling mistakes will give the impression that you are a careless person. And nobody wants to hire a careless guy.
You can find more information about business English writing here.
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