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Tips for creating cover letters

The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services may request information in a cover letter format instead of using narrative supplemental questions.

When creating your cover letter keep the following tips in mind:

  • Carefully read the job announcement – The announcement contains instructions on how to apply, what documents to submit (such as a cover letter), and what information to include in the cover letter.
  • Presentation/content – Hiring managers look at how the letter is formatted (such as a business letter or memo), the organization of the topics covered (whether or not the sentences transition well from one thought to another), and if all the requested information is included in your letter. They also look for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
  • Use the word "I" – Do not just write about the process or what "we" did. Tell the hiring manager what you did and be sure to include your accomplishments and responsibilities.
  • Avoid vague language – Responses such as "I was involved in the budgeting process" do not provide enough information. When creating your letter, think about the following: What were your duties? What was your level of responsibility? What did you do to achieve results? Additionally, jargon and acronyms tend to detract from the clarity of your response, so spell out acronyms the first time you use them.
  • Respond to all information requested – Address each item requested. For example, if you are asked to identify the tasks, responsibility level, and audience, be sure you respond to each one of these in your letter. Omitting the requested information may keep your application materials from being considered further.
  • Be concise, yet thorough – It is OK to describe a scenario (if it is pertinent), but do not describe philosophies or what "experts" say on a subject. Also, unless the announcement instructs you otherwise, there is no correct number of pages. Remember your audience: If you are too brief or if you ramble too much, it could affect how you will rank in this process.
  • Make it legible – Make sure your cover letter looks professional and is easy to read. Use 12 point Arial or Times New Roman for your font with one-inch margins. Make it legible; if the hiring manager cannot read your letter, you may not be considered further. If your cover letter is engaging and easy to review, it will get more attention.
  • Attach your cover letter if requested – Be sure to attach your cover letter to your online application form only if it is requested. Cover letters are an important part of the application process for some positions. If it is requested, and you forget it, your application does not proceed further in the process.



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