Resume essentials part 1: What essential are needed in the cover letter


I thought this would be helpful to many of my readers.  I have decided to begin a series that will assist you in preparing your cover letter and resume.

Like many Americans your cover letter and resume building skills may need a little refining. Often, a cover letter will be the deal breaker when it comes to you being picked for the position or not.  It shows the potential employer that you are interested and have taken the time to create a letter explaining why you are the best candidate for the position.  Keep in mind your cover letter should be simplistic and to the point.  It should answer the questions, your purpose for writing, as well as why you are best suited for the position.

Cover letter essentials are as follows:

  • Research the company before you begin to write and the details regarding the position so you can tailor the letter to the needs of both the organization and the position.
  • Personalize the letter if possible.  However, if you are responding to an ad or online posting refer to the reader as “Dear Sir or Madam”
  • Avoid using too many sentences that begin with “I” or writing in the passive voice.  This becomes repetitive and boring
  • Be careful not to exaggerate your experience.  Be completely honest and present yourself in the best possible manner
  • Do not use contractions
  • Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are very important.  Remember this is a direct reflection of you and your writing abilities, be sure to do your best
  • Include your contact information
  • Keep your letter short and simple
  • Lastly, use quality paper that matches your resume paper and envelopes

I found the below sample cover letter at  Even though the letter is written in the hopes of securing an internship, it embodies the above listed cover letter essentials.

Sample Letter

Joe P. Higgins
498 Seventh Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215-4155

September 12, 2004

John D. Smith
Human Resources Manager
Mom’s Marmalades, Inc.
123 Main Street
New York, NY 10000

Dear Mr. Smith,

I was thrilled when Tom Townsend, a mutual friend, suggested I write to you about opportunities at Mom’s Marmalades. As a self-starter who’s already had some strong experience as an entrepreneur, I’m interested in a summer internship with your company, preferably in Marketing.

I am hard-working, analytical, and like taking the initiative. In this year’s school Project Night, for example, my project — Student Attitudes Toward the Internet — received one of only three prizes. To make ends meet, I’ve worked on weekends two years straight as a telephone call center representative. This year, my greatest success was the used book mart I started — Battered Books — which grossed over $600 in sales in four months.

I’ve always believed in the quality of your jams, and have enjoyed them since I was seven years old. I would love to be a part of the specialty foods business, especially at Mom’s Marmalades.

Enclosed, please find a copy of my résumé. I will give you a call next week to see if we could set up a time to discuss my becoming a part of your company for the summer. Feel free to call me at (212) 555-5555, or send e-mail to

I look forward to speaking with you soon.



Joe P. Higgins

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