Cover Letter Basics
What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter introduces you and your resume to a potential employer, explaining both your reasons for writing and your qualifications for a specific position.
Cover letter tips:
- Always include a cover letter.
- Address each letter to a specific contact person.
- If you do not know the name of a contact, call the organization and ask for the name of the Manager or Director of the department that interests you. If you can't find a contact name, write "Dear Director," but only as a last resort.
- Describe your accomplishments and experiences in a way that focuses on the needs of the employer.
- Cover letters need to be tailored to the employer and position for which you are applying. Avoid creating one cover letter and mass mailing it to employers.
- Research the employer.
- Your letter should reflect that you know something about the organization and the type of industry in general. Each letter should be unique to that organization. Do not use a letter that looks like it could have been sent to anyone.
- Conclude the letter by directly asking for an opportunity to meet and/or talk with the employer.
- Include your contact information. It is appropriate to contact the employer one to two weeks after you send the letter to confirm they received your application and to inquire about the status of your application.
Letters should be typed (10-12 point font), and no longer than one page. Avoid graphics.
Double check spelling and grammar.
Letter paper should match your resume.
Keep a copy of each letter you send.
To view a Cover Letter Writing Rubric, click here
Anatomy of a Cover LetterDate
Your Street Address
City, State, Zip
Mr. or Ms. Employer
City, State, Zip
Dear Mr. or Ms. Employer,
First Paragraph (1-2 sentences): Tell why you are writing. Name the position, field, or general area about which you are asking, as well as how you heard of the opening or organization (i.e., newspaper, website) and be specific. Second Paragraph (4-6 sentences): Mention one or two qualifications you think would be of greatest interest to the employer, addressing your remarks to his/her point of view. Tell why you are particularly interested in this type of work. If you have had related experience or specialized training, point it out. Expand on a few key points of information stated in your resume.
Third Paragraph (1-2 sentences): Thank the employer for taking the time to consider your application to the position. Close by either making a specific request for an interview, or by letting the employer know you will look forward to hearing from them regarding the status of your application. You can close by again thanking the employer for their consideration.
Type your name