Senior Employment Resources

Cover Letter Guidelines

A cover letter, whether sent in an envelope or by email, provides a summary presentation of you as a candidate for the position for which you're applying. The cover letter should summarize your qualifications for that position by highlighting experience and training as they relate to the requirements and "like to haves" of the position as outlined in the job description. A cover letter also provides the employer with an example of your written communication skills.

Like your resumes, your cover letter must be custom-tailored for each position for which you're applying.

Important points to remember when preparing a cover letter are:

Cover Letter Example

Mr. John Doe
Director, Human Resources
XYZ Corporation
11 Sunrise Drive
Reston, VA. 22330

Dear Mr. Doe:

Enclosed please find a copy of my resume in response to your February 13, 2015 advertisement in the Washington Post for an Administrative Assistant.

I am well qualified for this position, as you'll see from my resume, attached. To summarize:

I look forward to having an opportunity to discuss with you in more detail how my skills and experience would benefit the XYZ Corporation.

Sincerely,

Joe Jones

Email Cover Letters

The email that transmits an attached resume gives you another opportunity to highlight your qualifications, fulfilling the same function as a cover letter. So, simply present the same basic information about yourself as outlined above in the Cover Letter section.

A few points to remember about email cover letters:

Salary Requirements

Some job announcements ask (or demand) that you state your salary requirements in the cover letter. This is a tough one for which there's no single right answer, other than don't ignore the request.

One approach, if it fits your circumstances and what the employer has asked, is to say something like "My salary requirements are flexible and would depend on the total compensation package."

Or, if you're prepared to accept a certain dollar amount, just say that, but be aware that you've likely set a cap on the amount you'll be offered.

Lowballing to be sure that you don't price yourself out of competition often backfires, as an employer may think you're not up to the task if you're willing to work for so little. Plus, you've greatly reduced your leverage when it comes to negotiating a salary.

There are many online articles about this topic. We've listed a few here.

For more information about resumes and related topics, please visit these page: