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Canadian Cover Letter Guide

A cover letter is a short document written in response to a specific job prospect and addressed directly to the department or individual in charge of hiring for the position. It should add to the information contained in your resume and resent you to the employer as a candidate.

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The following are general guidelines only. You must tailor your cover letter to suit your own experiences, and to suit the specific position you are applying for.

Before You Begin

Once you find a specific job posting that you want to apply for, you can begin to work on your application cover letter. Following these steps before you begin will help you write the best cover letter possible.

1. Do Your Research Before you begin to write your cover letter, learn everything that you can about the company or organization you are applying to. Check out their website and social media pages, research their top competitors, and read recent industry news articles. Learn the name(s) of the individual(s) who will be in charge of hiring for the position you want, as well as the head(s) of the company. You will not be able to include all of your research in your cover letter, but it will help you decide what you should include. Do you research for every cover letter you write. It may take some time, but you have a much better chance of being granted an interview if you have tailored your cover letter to the individual who will be reading it.

2. Check for Instructions Some employers include instructions in their job postings. They might ask you to include specific information, or answer certain questions, in your cover letter. Check whether the employer has left any specific instructions for you cover letter. If they have, follow them carefully. Formatting Guidelines

Formatting Guidelines

There is a standard cover letter format that most Canadian employers will expect you to follow. However, depending on your industry and the specific job posting you are responding to, you may have to change the formatting of your cover letter.

1. Length Your cover letter should be no more than one page in total.

2. Font Your font should be consistent throughout your cover letter, and you should choose a professional looking font. You font size should be big enough that it is easy to read when your cover letter is printed.

3. Spacing Your cover letter should be appropriately spaced. The main body should be single spaced, with sufficient space left between each new paragraph and section.

What to Include

There are seven sections in a cover letter.

1. Your Information Your name and contact information should be at the top of your cover letter. Include your:

  • First and last name
  • Current residential address
  • Phone number
  • Email address

2. Date Below your information, write the date that you are sending your cover letter.

3. Employer Information Below the date, include the contact information of the individual, department, or company you are addressing the cover letter to. If you know the name of the individual, include their:

  • First and last name
  • Position title
  • Company or organization name
  • Commercial address of the company or organization

If you do not know the name of the individual, include:

  • Department in charge of hiring decisions (if known)
  • Company or organization name
  • Commercial address of company or organization

4. Greeting Use a formal greeting to open your letter. If you know the name of the individual making hiring decisions, address them directly with their prefix and full name. If you don’t know the name of the individual, use a formal, generic greeting like ‘To whom it may concern,’.

5. Main Text: There are three parts to the main text of your cover letter: the introduction, body, and conclusion.

  1. Introduction In the first paragraph of your cover letter, you should introduce yourself as a candidate. Include your first name and the position you are applying for. You can also include your post relevant qualification and how you found the job posting. If you have a contact at the company who referred you to the job, you may want to mention him or her by name and department.Your introduction should be no more than two to three sentences.
  2. Body In the next couple of paragraphs, you want to convince the employer that you are the best candidate for the position. Tell them why they should invest in you. If you’re not sure what to include, try to answer these questions:
    • What projects have you worked on that are relevant to this position? What did you learn from them? Why does this make you a better candidate?
    • What responsibilities have you held that are relevant to this position? What did you learn from them? Why does this make you a better candidate?
    • What do you intend to do if you are hired? What benefit does the employer get if he or she hires you instead of someone else?

    The body of your cover letter should be one or two paragraphs.

  3. Conclusion The conclusion is the final paragraph in the main text of your cover letter. It is your opportunity to tell the employer how you feel about potentially working for the company, thank them for the opportunity to apply, and invite them to respond to your application.It should be no more than three or four sentences.

6. Signature There are two parts to your cover letter signature: the closing line and your full name.

  1. Closing Line Your cover letter must include an appropriate closing line. This is the line right before your name.
  2. Full Name Your full name follows the closing line. It is not necessary to print and physically sign your cover letter, since more job applications are done electronically.

Final Revision

Carefully review your cover letter to make sure you have not made any mistakes.

1. Proofread Check your cover letter for any spelling or grammar mistakes. If possible, have someone else proofread it for you, or come back to it after a night’s sleep. Be absolutely sure that you have not make any mistakes in:

  • Your name and contact information
  • The employer’s name and contact information
  • The name of the company or organization you are applying to

2. Check Instructions Go over any instructions for your cover letter given by the employer and make sure you have followed them carefully.

3. Date Make sure that you have the correct date on your cover letter. The date should be the day that you send your cover letter to the potential employer.

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