A cover letter is an introduction to your résumé and the first document an employer reads. It is a way to assess your writing skills while clearly and concisely explaining the position in which you are interested and how you are the right person for the job. The cover letter should represent your very best efforts. It may be beneficial to have a friend, relative, or a Career Development Center professional review your letter prior to sending it to an employer.
- Limit it to one page.
- Avoid duplicate information.
- Keep to 2 fonts – Times New Roman or Arial font are best, 11 point to 12 point size (12 point recommended). Use the same font style for cover letter and résumé.
- Customize the letter for EACH position to which you apply.
- Match contact information to the same format you have on your résumé.
- Identify how you are qualified for the position and reasons why it will be to the employer’s advantage to hire you.
- Address letter to a specific person. Do not address to sir, madam, or director of personnel…find out who is responsible for hiring.
- Plan your letter before you write it.
- Use the job description as a guideline for your cover letter.
- Open with an idea that captures the attention of the prospective employer so that the letter and résumé are considered worth reading.
- Close your letter with a request for an interview.
- Pay special attention to grammar, spelling, and neatness.
Important Elements of a Cover Letter
Sample Cover Letter
Heading (include your street address, city, state and zip code):
Inside Address (company information):
Dear Mr./ Ms. (Important to have a particular individual to address):
Paragraph #1: State why you are writing; how you learned of the organization or position, and basic information about yourself. Second, you want to attract the recruiter’s interest. If someone has referred you or you received the posting from a credible source, this is where you need to mention it.
Paragraph #2: This paragraph should describe the value you can bring to the hiring organization. You can include 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. 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 résumé. This IS not simply a listing of your strengths. Instead, it lists specific results achieved and contributions made.
Paragraph #3: 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. Don’t forget to provide your telephone and/or e-mail address again in this paragraph of the letter. State that you would be glad to provide the employer with any additional information.