Cover Letters

What is a cover letter? Why do you need one?

A cover letter should accompany every resume you send to a prospective employer. A well-written cover letter is just as important as—and in some instances, more important than—a well-presented resume. If it does not impress or catch the attention of employers, they may not even look at your resume for consideration. Your cover letter should be brief and personal, address the needs of your target employer, and reflect your natural choice of vocabulary as well as your enthusiasm about the opportunity for which you are applying.

Purpose of the cover letter is to:

  • Introduce yourself and elicit interest in you by grabbing the employer’s attention
  • Highlight 1 or 2 skills or accomplishments mentioned on your resume
  • Demonstrate a particular interest in the company that may not be as obvious in the resume
  • Serve as a sample of your writing ability
Cover Letter Construction Guidelines
  • Target each cover letter to a specific employer. Address your correspondence to the person with hiring authority, using her or his name and title. A “form” or photocopied cover letter is never appropriate.
  • For letters of application: In the opening paragraph of your cover letter, introduce yourself, clearly stating your reason for writing. Mention your interest and how you learned about the opening, identifying the position for which you would like to be considered and why you are interested in this organization.
  • For letters of inquiry: As with letters of application, in the opening paragraph of your cover letter, clearly state your reason for writing, identifying the type of position for which you would like to be considered and why you are interested in this organization.
  • In the middle paragraph(s), highlight your educational credentials, employment experience, and personal attributes that qualify you for the position. Use specific examples from your co-curricular activities, coursework, and employment that demonstrate skills pertinent to the position. Some significant skills include leadership, decision-making, and communication. Refer the reader to your resume for more details.
  • In the closing paragraph, you may indicate one of the following depending upon the circumstances: Request an interview, note that you will call on a certain date to arrange a convenient time for an appointment, ask for application materials, or affirm your interest in the position and/or organization.
  • Type your cover letter, using a computer and laser printer, on 20-25% bond paper that matches your resume. Proofread for misspellings, grammatical errors, and poor construction before you submit it to a prospective employer! Mediocre writing or typos will be sure to land your application in the “reject” pile!