A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Cover Letters

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Academic Cover Letters

When you're applying for a faculty position with a college or university, the cover letter is your first chance to make a strong impression as a promising researcher and teacher. Below you'll find some strategies for presenting your qualifications effectively in an academic context.

Purdue University (1998). Careers>Resumes>Cover Letters


Cover Letter Tips

A selection of writing samples for cover letters, CVs and resumes.

CvTips.com. Careers>Resumes>Cover Letters>Writing


Cover Letter Writing Blues

Cover letters can mean the difference between your work being read and being tossed callously into the nearest wastebasket. Writing cover letters makes me feel stupid and small, as though I were begging some faceless entity (read: editor) to acknowledge my pitiful existence.

Van Nooten, Sylvia. Writer's Block (1999). Careers>Resumes>Cover Letters


The Cover Letter: Door Opener Par Excellence

Although we are allowed to put more into a cover letter than can appear on a magazine cover, the challenge is still to keep it succinct. In fact, writing something that is powerful and yet short is the single most difficult kind of business writing. You already know that although it's easy to go on and on in a company memorandum, saying the same thing in half the space can make your work twice as powerful.

Jensen, David G. Science (2002). Careers>Resumes>Cover Letters


Cover Letters That Sell You   (PDF)

Drake discusses the three objectives of cover letters to work applications.

Drake, Cheryl S. Intercom (2002). Careers>Resumes>Cover Letters


Employer Preferences for Résumés and Cover Letters   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article reports the results of a survey of employers' preferences for résumé style, résumé delivery method, and cover letters. Employers still widely prefer the standard chronological résumé, with only 3% desiring a scannable résumé. The vast majority of employers prefer electronic delivery, either by email (46%) or at the company's Web site (38%), with only 7% preferring a paper copy. Cover letters are preferred by a majority (56%). Preferences regarding résumé style and cover letters were independent of national (USA) vs. multinational geographic range, company size, type of industry, or respondent's job function. Smaller companies prefer résumé delivery by email, and human resources workers prefer delivery using the company's Web site.

Schullery, Nancy M., Linda Ickes and Stephen E. Schullery. Business Communication Quarterly (2009). Careers>Resumes>Cover Letters


The Million Dollar Letter: Some Hints On How to Write One   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article suggests ways of writing a truly effective cover letter, an extremely important document in the search for a job. First, features gleaned from 13 model letters in technical writing textbooks yield figures on the number of words, sentences, and paragraphs per letter, plus the average number of words per sentence and paragraph, information helpful to those with little or no knowledge of how to write a strong cover letter. Second, the article surveys what the textbook writers offer as advice about the rhetorical principles that should be employed in composing cover letters. One piece of advice given by almost all of the experts is that writers should try to exude an energetic attitude, yet these same authorities do not delineate just how to display such a posture in the letters themselves. Third, examination of the letters reveals that one way that experts insert verve into cover letters is to use verbals, particularly gerunds, participles, and infinitives. In fact, 92.58% of the sentences in the 13 model letters have some type of verbal in them. The advantage of employing verbals is that while they are used for other parts of speech, they still retain the residue of action in their meaning. Fourth, the article describes the results of a survey to determine the acceptance of such constructions in the minds of two sets of readers: first-year writing students and third-year technical writing students. In both groups, more than 75% of the students preferred a paragraph with verbals in it over a paragraph devoid of verbals. Finally, the article suggests "sentence combining" as a procedure for teaching technical writing students how to combine basic sentences into verbals to garner variety and economy, one of the hallmarks of technical writing.

Myers, Marshall. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2004). Careers>Resumes>Cover Letters


Seven Cover Letter Mistakes That Make Hiring Managers Cringe

Cover letters don’t get a lot of love. And considering how tough it is to write a good one, it’s kind of understandable that people tend to throw them together at the last minute (or update one they wrote last month), attach it to their resume, and call it good. But this, my friends, is the biggest cover letter mistake you could make. In fact, this document is the best chance you have to give the hiring manager a glimpse of who you are, what you bring to the table, and why you—above all those other candidates—are the one for the job.

Zhang, Lily. Muse, The (2014). Careers>Business Communication>Cover Letters


Twelve Things You Should Never Do When Applying For A Job

Peter S. Herzog, author of "How To Prolong Your Job Search: A Humorous Guide to the Pitfalls of Resume Writing," tells us: "Design your personal profile with the mindset that the people reading it are doing so at five minutes to 5 o'clock on a Friday, right before their vacation."

Giang, Vivian. Business Insider, The (2012). Careers>Resumes>Cover Letters>Advice


Use this Formula for the Perfect Cover Letter   (members only)

Never assume that hiring managers don't look at cover letters, even when you apply for a job via e-mail. Use this outline to make sure you include the right information in your cover letter.

Davis, Jeff. TechRepublic (2003). Careers>Resumes>Cover Letters


What Makes A Great Cover Letter, According To Companies?

The status of the cover letter is changing in the Web industry. While a well-formed cover letter still has a place, some companies believe that Web folk who rely on this archaic tool never make it to the next round. But what do I know? Let’s hear instead from some great Web and design agencies to get their advice on creating a great cover letter!

Neville, Kat. Smashing (2010). Careers>Business Communication>Cover Letters


Writing a Winning Cover Letter

Your curriculum vitae cover letter is both an introduction and a sales pitch. It should show what sets this individual apart from all others, advises Professor Jeffrey Stansbury, chair of the faculty search committee at the Department of Craniofacial Biology of the University of Colorado School of Dentistry in Denver. Like any good sales pitch, your cover letter should motivate the customer to learn more about the product--in this case, you.

Borchardt, John K. Science (2006). Careers>Resumes>Cover Letters


Writing an Application Letter to Land an Internship

This set of 23 slides is intended to help bioengineering students prepare to write letters of application to secure their first internships. The slides describe what types of information to include in the letter, how to organize and format a business letter, and some annotated examples taken from students' drafts that illustrate common problems. This file could be adapted for students in other disciplines by modifying the examples.

conneXions (2008). Careers>Internships>Cover Letters

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