Cover Letter FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Letters  


Q1. How do I email my cover letter?

Follow the instructions given by the hiring manager. If there are no instructions, copy and paste a plain-text version of your cover letter (and resumé) in the body of an email message and attach your resumé in MS Word format. 

Q2. What should I say about salary requirements if mentioned in a job ad?

The best strategy is to acknowledge the request in your cover letter without going into specific detail. Providing hard numbers now weakens your negotiating power later. If your requirements fall outside the position’s parameters, you may not even be considered for the job. It’s best to indicate in your cover letter that you would be happy to discuss salary requirements once a mutual interest has been established. Or, if you really feel pressured, provide a broad range: “My salary requirements are in the $60K to $80K range, depending upon the specific scope of responsibilities.”

Q3. What if I don’t know the hiring manager’s name?

When a job posting doesn’t give you a specific contact name, avoid using the overly formal “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.” Instead, try calling the employer to find out the hiring manager’s name. If the employer’s name is masked or if the ad specifies “no phone calls,” use “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Recruiter” if a recruiting firm is handling the initial screening.

Q4. Do I need to customize my cover letter?

Yes, spending a few extra minutes customizing your letter for each job application is beneficial. You’ll certainly want to make sure the correct company name, job title and contact name are included in every letter you send. It’s also a good idea to take note of requirements or desired qualifications mentioned in job ads and use your cover letter to bring out your matching skills and credentials. Try to read between the lines when reviewing job postings to get important clues about what’s most important to the hiring manager. For example, if the ad mentions multitasking as a desired skill, be sure that your cover letter contains a sentence that demonstrates your ability to simultaneously manage multiple projects.

 Q5. Can my cover letter repeat what’s in my resumé?

It’s a mistake to simply copy information from your resumé into your cover letter. Your resumé’s telegraphic writing style (where personal pronouns and articles like “the” and “a” may be omitted) is not appropriate for a cover letter. In fact, a cover letter gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your writing skills.

Q6. What if the ad doesn’t request a cover letter?

Always include a cover letter, even if the job posting doesn’t request it. It’s good business etiquette, and helps hiring managers quickly surmise the position you’re applying for. And, most importantly, a cover letter gives you another opportunity to sell your credentials.