Generic Cover Letters - Do's and Don'ts

A generic cover letter is a basic letter which is used to cover a whole genre of situations. It's literally a form letter in many cases. These letters are used to cover common elements in correspondence. Generic cover letters can also be good basic drafts. Usually generic letters are written on macros, and only the address and contact details, and occasionally extra text, are required. They're quite efficient as cover letters, particularly when you're writing a lot of letters on the same subject or issues.

Do's and Don'ts With Generic Cover Letters

Generic cover letters do have many uses, but they're strictly for use where appropriate. They can be good business letters, as long as they're used for specific purposes.

Do:

  • Design your cover letter and refine it to get the best effect. You can often do a very simple cover letter that will provide information, give references, and look very professional.
  • Use these letters for common cover letters so you can have consistent correspondence. Having a standard format and information means you can always be sure what information you've given your readers.
  • Leave space for additional text if required. This is standard practice, and allows for situations where you need to provide more information.
  • Remember a cover letter can be tailored for use in a lot of business situations. A cover letter is probably the best possible way to distribute your business information clearly.

Don't:

  • Don't use generic cover letters for job applications. They're not appropriate for targeting jobs. Even if you use a lot of similar phrases and the same openings and letter formats, the text has to be specific, not generic.
  • Don't use generic cover letters for important business letters. These need to be custom made, to make sure your cover letter meets the circumstances.

Designing Your Cover Letter

You can produce a good cover letter for just about any purpose. These are the basic steps:

  1. Set up your addressee space and your contact details: Easy on a macro, but you can usually set up a basic letter setting on normal documents, too.
  2. Set up a standard introduction and heading for your letter: Dear Sir or Madam, or Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. (name).Title your message: This is a heading containing the subject of the letter.
  3. Draft your introduction and basic text of your message: Check this text out thoroughly, delete extraneous materials. Stick to the point, and stay on topic.
  4. Include a closing paragraph: This can be very simple. Please contact me if you require any further information.
  5. Add signature and title: Your name and business title.
  6. Include date: Preferably numbered date, name of month and year (14 March 2010)
  7. Important: Use a check list to make sure you're sending your letters to all the people you need to contact.

Also check:

  • Names of recipients
  • Business titles of recipients
  • Addresses and zip codes

This format will cover any series of cover letters, and when you've drafted your basic letter, it can easily be adapted to other letters.