(MoneyWatch) In applying for a job, do you ever wonder how to finish a cover letter? As much as your opening line -- and that first impression -- counts, closing your introduction on a positive note is key. How you sign off will depend on your industry and whether you know the contact, but there are some general things to keep in mind. Here are some to review before pressing "send":
Think about how formal you want to be. If this is a formal letter, you have many options, and there is some room for personal preference. " ' Sincerely' is traditional and can date you, but will never be wrong," says Dale Mayer, author of "Career Essentials: The Cover Letter." "Using 'Best,' is more current and is not wrong. Other options include 'Regards,' 'Respectfully' and 'Thank you'." Choose the sign-off that fits the industry -- and your personality -- the best.
How to make sure a person sees your online resume
4 essential steps to writing a great cover letter
Resume alert! 3 useless phrases to delete
Provide your contact number one more time. Particularly with an informal note (for instance, if this is a friend or a recruiter who you're acquainted with) it can be helpful to include a phone number under your name after you sign off, notes Mayer. Sure, they have your contact information in your resume, but the idea is to make it as easy as possible for them to reach out to you. The idea is to keep the conversation going. And on that note....
Say you'd like to discuss further. You want to leave the door open and urge your prospective employer to invite you to step through it, says Martin Yate, author of "Knock 'em Dead 2013: The Ultimate Job Search Guide." "Say you'd like to talk and give a number, or promise to follow up with a phone call -- and do it. No one gets hired without conversation, and this is the quickest way to get one started," Yates says. Of course, if the job posting says "no phone calls," follow the instructions.
Check your letter for typos. There are few worse feelings than pressing "send," re-reading the note and noticing a typo. Read it slowly-- out loud if possible -- and you should catch any errors. You can also use the copy-editor's trick of reading your letter backwards. That makes it easier to spot mistakes because your brain processes words as discrete units rather than as parts of longer sentence blocks. And if you're sending out a bunch of letters on a single day, make sure you have entered the right company and contact.
Finally, follow up on whatever you suggested as the next step. If you promise to call within a week, call within a week. If they asked for no phone calls, follow up with a quick email underlining your enthusiasm about the position and desire to discuss it.
How to open and close your cover letter
On a cover letter, formality is rarely a bad thing.
Write your cover letter opening and closing with these tips.
In a tight job market flooded with resumes and cover letters, it’s a given that your documents and messages need to be error-free. So how else can you distinguish your communications? Appropriate openings and closings that convey professionalism and polish.
Use our tips below on how to start your cover letter with a proper greeting and sign off with a polished signature. And if you need additional writing tips, join Monster today, so the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service can help you impress employers with a high-impact resume and cover letter.
Cover letter openings
Write a formal greeting, such as Dear Ms. Alvis or Dear Mr. Yang. If you're unsure of the person’s gender and can’t find out, write the full name, as in Dear Chu Li or Dear Chris Beltran.
While it is increasingly common to see greetings without the "Dear" in business, it is less formal. When applying for a job, sometimes you want to start off formally, even though you may take a less formal tone in subsequent written exchanges.
If you’re unfamiliar with someone’s name, be sure you don’t confuse the first name with the family name, which can easily happen in today’s global business environment, depending in part on the languages you know. For example, the CEO of Lenovo is Yang Yuanqing. His surname is Yang and his first name is Yuanqing (in Mandarin, the family name is written first), so if you are addressing him, you would write Dear Mr. Yang and not Dear Mr. Yuanqing.
A final comment on people’s names: be sure to spell them correctly. That is one typo no recipient will miss.
What if you cannot track down a contact name for your cover email? Use a generic salutation, such as Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Recruiting Manager or Dear Human Resources Professional. (Avoid To Whom It May Concern; it is antiquated.) Another option is to write Greetings, which is somewhat informal but polite. You could also dispense with the opening greeting altogether and start with your first sentence, although some recipients might find that approach to be abrupt.
In all openings, be sure to capitalize the first letter of every noun and follow your greeting with punctuation. Use either a colon (Dear Mr. Yang:) or a comma (Dear Recruiting Manager,).
Cover letter closings
End your message with a formal closing, such as Sincerely, Regards or Best regards. If your closing contains more than one word, capitalize only the first word, as in Best regards or Sincerely yours. And be sure to put a comma after your closing. A common error in business communications is the omission of that comma.
Your full name goes on the next line. No need for the extra space that used to go on letters for the signature. Write your telephone number and email address on separate lines after your name. Although this contact information is on your resume (and your email address is on your email), including it with your cover message makes life easier for the recipient.
This post is by Helen Cunningham and Brenda Greene, authors of The Business Style Handbook, An A-to-Z Guide for Effective Writing on the Job