Always enclose a cover letter with your resume whether it is mailed out generally or in response to a specific opening.
Your major purpose is to interest employers in interviewing you and the first step is to get them to read your resume. (You do not need a cover letter when you are hand delivering the resume.) Read below for more tips on cover letters.
View an example cover letter. This document also has an example résumé and action phrases for your convenience.
Address your letter to a specific name and title, if possible. A job announcement will usually name the person to whom the letter should be directed. If you are applying generally, direct the letter to the person who has the power to hire you. If you are applying to a blind box ad where no name or company is listed, "Good Morning!" or "Dear Employer" may be preferable to "Dear Boxholder" and is certainly much better than "Dear Sir/Madam." When writing to a woman, Ms. is the best choice if no professional title is known.
Keeping it to one page is a must. Three to four short paragraphs will give you all the room you need. You don't want to repeat the resume, only highlight it so the person reading the letter will want to turn the page and take a look at it. Don't be cute or humorous. Be straightforward and serious. Avoid clichés and flowery language such as "I have taken the liberty to enclose my resume...," and "I am most eager to face a challenging position in which to use my work and educational background experience." Also avoid being vague, "I am seeking a responsible position in a growth-orientated firm where I can work with people."
Use a standard business letter format. Type it. Proofread! Use white paper or paper that matches your resume.
Just as there is no right way to write a resume, so may cover letters differ. While you can send reproductions of your resume, always type individual cover letters and tailor them to the specific job, organization, and/or locale. There is almost nothing worse for a resume than to have it accompanied by a canned cover letter.
If you are writing the letter in response to an announcement of a specific position, focus your letter on the qualifications that the position requires. For example, if the description is asking for an 'energetic' person, make your letter sound energetic, don't just say that you are. If the position requires some evening or weekend hours, tell them how eager you are to begin your career and that you will gladly put in whatever time it takes to get it started.
Carefully address the envelope. Type it and be sure the name and address are correct and spelled properly. If you choose to use a regular business size envelope, the envelope should match the paper of your letter and resume. A 9 x12 envelope is also proper.
Use the same font for the cover letter as you used in your resume.