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Cover Letter - USA

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Once you've prepared your resume, it's time to highlight your achievements in the cover letter. How you go about doing that can also vary from country to country. In this section you'll find some general as well as culturally specific tips about how to make your letter (and yourself!) stand out when applying for a job in the USA.

Cultural Dos and Don'ts
- Casual dress and creative resumes are appropriate only in the right circumstances - err on the side of being conservative.

- It is illegal for an employer to ask you questions about your religion, marital status, the number of children you have, or your sexual orientation.

- Photos are not required and are discouraged. Do not send photos except for appropriate jobs (as a model, actor, or hostess).

- An outgoing nature is always a plus.

  • Leave space between paragraphs.
  • Don't use abbreviations.
  • Use short sentences.
  • If requested in the ad, write the letter by hand. Otherwise, make sure it's in the same style as the CV and on a computer.
  • Don't start the sentences with the pronoun "I".
  • If it's a cold-calling letter (not an response to an offered position), you should call the company to try and find the name of the appropriate person to write to.
  • Direct the letter to:
    • To Whom It May Concern
    • Dear Sir/Madam
  • Close the letter with:
    • Sincerely yours,
    • Best regards,

First paragraph:

  • State why you are writing and where you heard about the opening (from a newspaper ad, your school's career center, or somewhere else).
  • Indicate that you know something about the company and its excellent work.
  • Let them know why you would be a good candidate by succinctly highlighting important achievements in past work and the relevant experience you have had.
  • Try to engage the reader in the first paragraph. Make your letter stand out!
  • Make it personal; don't give the impression that this is a standard letter.

Second paragraph:

  • Give your reasons for interest in the job.
  • Clarify what position you're interested in.
  • Emphasize your qualities that best fit the position.
  • Explain why are you interested in working for their company and how can the company benefit from your employment.

Third paragraph:

  • Express interest in an interview and state your availability.

Fourth paragraph:

  • Conclude by saying you will call the contact person in the next couple of weeks as a follow up (and then make sure to call them), and express interest in having an interview.
  • Indicate again that you are enthusiastic about the position.
  • Finally, remind them how to contact you.
  • Sign the letter.

Now that you've read our guidelines for writing a cover letter, check out our model American cover letter.

Or continue on to our page on writing a resume for the US.  
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