Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter

A cover letter accompanies your resume and describes your particular interest and qualifications for a job. It is a way to introduce yourself to a potential employer and showcases your communication skills. Be sure to take time to create a great cover letter. Check out our tips below.

Strategies to use before beginning your cover letter

Researchthe company or office to understand their goals and structure.

Reviewthe job description to identify job duties that align with your previous experiences.

Consideryour own values, interests, and skills and how they influence your interest in the position.

Cover letter content

Once you have a better understanding of yourself in relation to the position, begin developing your cover letter with each of the sections listed below.

The heading should provide the employer with your contact information and list the address to which the materials are going. To insert your contact information, just use the same header from your resume. To insert the employer address, start by looking at the job description. If you are still unable to find it, please note that you can access employer profiles on Handshake to do further research into the organization. Please note that you can always do a quick internet search of the employer's company, their name, and the address of the specific organization or department.

Ensure you include the following:

  • Your name and contact information
  • Date you are submitting the letter
  • Address of the employer

The first paragraph should start with a greeting to the employer or position search committee. After this, the paragraph should concisely describe why you are writing, to what position you are applying, and why you are interested in this particular organization and role.

Ensure you include the following:

  • The position title from the job posting
  • How you learned about the position
  • Your interest in the position and the specific department or company

The next section should showcase your particular skills and fit for the position. Use this space to talk about what you have done that would help you succeed in the desired role. If your content is six or more sentences, you should divide it into two paragraphs.

Ensure you include the following:

  • Educational preparedness for specific tasks listed in the job description
  • Specific examples of experiences that link to skills required in the position

Wrap up your letter with a short closing. Be sure to restate your interest and thank the employer for spending time looking at your materials.

Ensure you include the following:

  • Specific mention of additional documents you’ve submitted
  • A statement about following up with the employer
  • A personal thank you for taking time to review your materials

Complete cover letter example

Not sure where to start?

View this example of a cover letter

Formatting 101

Keep these strategies in mind when formatting your cover letter:

  • Start with a fresh document. Avoid fill-in-the blank templates because they can be challenging to edit once more content is added.
  • Use standard, professional fonts (e.g., Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri).
  • Use the same font theme as your resume. Use either 11- or 12-point font sizes throughout.
  • Keep your letter to one page in length, using no smaller than one-half inch margins. Do this by keeping paragraphs between three to five sentences.
  • Create an electronic signature to insert into letters that you will send digitally.

Top six cover letter tips

  1. Create an outline before writing your letter. This will help you organize your thoughts and create a clear and concise cover letter.
  2. Work to highlight specific experiences and skills you have demonstrated rather than just restating your resume. Never feel the need to apologize for skills you have not gained yet.
  3. Increase your chance for an interview by finding specific aspects of the job description and incorporate those into your cover letter.
  4. Ask a friend to proofread your letter before sending. A second person will be able to help with flow, tone, and clarity to help you impress an employer.
  5. Just like your resume, change the file name to LastName, FirstName_Cover Letter when sending to employers. Also, be sure to save this as a PDF before uploading or sending to an employer.
  6. If you are unable to find the employer address on the job description, you can access employer profiles on Handshake to do further research into the organization as you begin to work on tailoring your letter to the specific position. If you are still unable to find the employer address, please note that you can always do a quick internet search of the employer's company, their name, and the address of the specific organization or department.

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