A cover letter is a sales tool! It should always accompany your resume or application. So, here are a few tips for writing effective cover letters:

1. Always include important information

Your name, address and telephone number (including area code) should be easily visible on every cover letter you send out. It will be the first thing the reader looks for when trying to contact you.

2. Make it personal-Address your letter to a specific person within the company

Start with and end with the reader. If necessary, call for a contact name. "To whom it may concern" and "Dear Sir/Madam" letters don't get read as often as those addressed to a specific person. And use a comma after the name-it's more personal.

3. Make the opening sentence catchy

When people read letters (especially business letters), they scan them for content: Who's it addressed to? What's the opener? What's the desired action? etc. Attention grabbing first sentences (ones that describe why you're the best person for this job, or ones that address the interests of the employer, etc.) will get the reader to read on.

4. Write each letter to a specific job/company

There's no such thing as a "one size fits all" cover letter. Each job you apply for is different. Show how you meet the needs of a given job. Be sure to refer to a specific job in the first few sentences so that the reader knows what job you are applying for (no need to refer to where you saw it-it doesn't add anything to your letter).

5. Describe your skills as they relate to the job

Saying you worked for a company in a job doesn't mean the reader will make the connection-between you, your previous job, and the job in question. It often helps to tie your experience to your skills, and relate your skills to the job description.

6. Always type and proofread your cover letter before sending it out

Your cover letter creates an impression of you. It's very important to appear professional and not make mistakes. If you make errors in your cover letter, it may reflect how employers may view you. If your letter is neat and professional, the employer may believe you are, too.

7. Be brief, use action words to describe your accomplishments

Some employers receive many cover letters and resumes daily, so they want to know about you without having to read a lot.

8. Be confident, creative and enthusiastic

Next to your resume, your cover letter is your best way to sell yourself on paper. It lets your personality come through as well as the benefits of hiring you.

9. Always keep a copy of every cover letter you send out.

Copies of past letters will make your job search and follow-up go smoothly.

10. Always request a response or an interview.

Your cover letter is to get you an interview-so, ask for one! OK-that's it on resume cover letters.