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Anatomy of an Effective Cover Letter

My previous article on cover letters (http://bit.ly/CoverLetterSegments) had outlined the importance of cover letters as companions to résumés and had also touched upon the main segments of a well-written cover letter.

This article will talk about the parts of a good cover, whether they are in the print or electronic format.

  • Header (print format only): The header consists of your name, address line, contact number, and email id. The header of your cover letter should match the header of your resume (cut, copy, and paste the header if you must), making the resume and cover letter look like a set of complementary documents
  • Date (print format only): As per The Gregg Reference Manual, the date on the cover letter should be the date that you drafted the letter. A date that is more than a couple of days old may make the cover letter seem stale. Ideally, you should tailor your cover letter for every application and in doing so, you should definitely change the date, the inside address, and of course the person it is addressed to 
  • Inside Address (print format only): This includes the contact’s name, his/her designation, and the company’s name and address. This data is usually left-aligned like the rest of the cover letter 
  • Subject Line: For the print format, the subject line should state the name of the position applied for and reference/job number (if any). This should be done as a courtesy to hiring professionals as it will help them track where their most competent candidates come from, so that they can spend their advertising rupees wisely.

An Example: Re: Senior Engineer, Reference# 45545

For the electronic format the subject should convey that you have attached your resume with the email and also provide a quick glimpse of your main strength/competency

An Example: Subject: Ved Vaidya, Senior Sales Manager, #1 Corporate Accounts Manager

  • Salutation: Try to address the letter to the hiring manager. In case you cannot find the name, ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ will do, but, avoid using the phrase, ‘To Whom It May Concern’ 
  • Body: The body of the cover letter will consist of ‘The Opening’, ‘The Sales Pitch’, and ‘The Close’. For the electronic format, this part of the cover letter should be short and to the point  
  • Complimentary Closing: The most commonly used closing is ‘Sincerely’, especially for first time correspondences. If you already know the person then ‘Best Regards’ or ‘Best Wishes’ maybe used  
  • Your Full Name/Your Identification: This should be your full name as stated at the top of your resume. Above your name (and below ‘Sincerely’) you can have your signature, adding a personal touch to the cover letter (maybe an electronic signature for the email cover letter!)
  • Enclosure notation (print format only): Since the resume will be included with the cover letter, the word ‘Enclosure’ should be typed below your name. This will clue the reader that there is something else to review as well        



8 years ago / Comments Off on Anatomy of an Effective Cover Letter