Cover letters are a potential employer's first contact with you. As such, they're essential to landing a new job. Many people spend hours perfecting their resumes, but disregard the cover letter. Read on to learn how to write a cover letter.

Your cover letter should follow the format below:

  1. Write your name and address at the top left of the page. You may also include your email address and telephone number.
  2. Write the date a few lines beneath your name and address.
  3. Write the name of the specific person you want to read the letter a few lines beneath the date. List the proper title and spell his or her name correctly.
  4. List the company name and address on the next line.
  5. Start your letter. The first paragraph should be two or three introductory sentences, and should state the position for which you are applying. Mention if someone in the company referred you. Generally state your qualifications.
  6. Expand on your most relevant qualifications in the next one to three paragraphs. Be as specific as possible.
  7. Conclude your letter with a request for a response, such as a call back or interview. Express a willingness to supply more information, and make sure to thank the reader [RPI].

Here are some tips for a strong letter:

  • Be concise. Optimally, your letter should be no longer than half a typed page.
  • Proofread your letter. Spelling and grammar checkers miss a lot. Remember, someone is supposed to hire you based on reading this letter. It needs to be perfect.
  • Write an original cover letter for each job you apply for, tailoring the letter to the needs of the employer. Explain why you are the best applicant for the job [Isaacs]. Use buzzwords mentioned in the job posting or on the company's website.
  • Be original. Employers read hundreds of letters. Tell your personal, professional story, and let your personality come through. Discuss times you succeeded in the past that show you can help this employer in the future.