The Cover Letter

The primary purpose of the cover letter is to acquaint the prospective employer with your unique talents and skills, and to arrange an interview to discuss employment possibilities.  The cover letter should represent your very best efforts. It may be beneficial to have a friend, relative, or Career Counseling and Services review your letter prior to sending it to an employer.

Guidelines to remember:

  • Do not duplicate what is said on your resume
  • Customize the letter by writing a different cover letter for EACH position to which you apply
  • Your cover letter should use the same font style as your resume
  • The cover letter should highlight your resume by identifying how you are qualified for the position and reasons why it will be to the employer’s advantage to hire you
  • Keep it brief – limit it to one page
  • The letter should not be addressed to sir, madam, or director of personnel…find out who is responsible for hiring
  • Plan your letter before you write it
  • Adapt the letter carefully to conditions of the job opportunity
  • Open with the idea that captures the attention of the prospective employer so that the letter and resume are considered worth reading
  • Close your letter with a request for an interview
  • Special attention should be given to grammar, spelling and neatness

Important Elements of a Cover Letter:

Heading (include your street address, city, state and zip code)
Inside Address (company information)
Paragraph #1: State why you are writing; how you learned of the organization or position, and basic information about yourself.

Paragraph #2: This paragraph should describe the value you can bring to the hiring organization. Mention what you are currently doing and then tell why you are interested in the employer or type of work the employer does (Simply stating that you are interested does not tell why, and can sound like a form letter). Demonstrate that you know enough about the employer or position to relate your background to the employer or position. Mention specific qualifications which make you a good fit for the employer’s needs. This is an opportunity to explain in more detail relevant items in your resume.  This IS NOT simply a listing of your strengths. Instead, it lists specific results achieved and contributions made.

Paragraph #3: This provides a brief synopsis of your relevant education and experience. The purpose is to convey that you have the appropriate training and experience to support the position for which you are applying.

Paragraph #4:  Indicate that you would like the opportunity to interview for a position or to talk with the employer to learn more about their opportunities or hiring plans. It is appropriate to suggest a time when you’ll be getting in contact by phone or to indicate that you will wait for a response. State that you would be glad to provide the employer with any additional information needed. Thank the employer for her/his consideration.

Closing (ie “Sincerely”)