Office of Career Services
A cover letter is a formal business communication tool that allows employers to assess your ability to write and communicate in a professional manner. When requested, you should always include a cover letter with your resume. While the resume provides an overview of your background, the cover letter allows you the opportunity to highlight the skills you possess that match with the job description.
Steps to Writing a Good Cover Letter
- Study the job description to identify what the employer is looking for.
- Identify keywords that align with your skill set.
- Be sure to include industry specific competencies.
- Keep the letter direct and concise.
Sample Cover Letter: PDF Word
Cover Letter Check List: PDF
The heading section of your cover letter should formally address the person who will be receiving it and include what job you are applying for.
- It is best to have the same font as your resume.
- Your name and address, as well as the date, should either be left justified or on the right hand side. Do not center your information at the top of your cover letter.
- Cover letters should be addressed to an individual, preferably an employment or personnel manager or a supervisor in a department of interest. Cover letters should not be addressed to Whom it May Concern, Dear Sir, Dear Madam or Dear Sir/Madam.
- Employer's contact information should be left-justified and include their name, company name and address.
- It is also a good idea to state what job the cover letter is in reference to, for example RE: Administrative Assistant (#4528).
- For the most up-to-date and accurate information on contact names, it is beneficial to call the company directly.
- Ask for the appropriate person's name and title, and be sure to obtain the correct spelling.
- This is also a good time to ask for the phone number or email for that person so you can follow up later.
- If you are unable to identify a specific person to whom to address the letter, it is perfectly acceptable to omit the salutation and in its place put the title of the job you are applying for. For example RE: Administrative Assistant (#4528).
The opening paragraph states the purpose of the letter, names the job title, mentions how you heard about it (if you have heard about a vacancy from a friend or someone already working for the company, mention their name in the first paragraph) and addresses what interests you about the company or position. Develop a statement that connects your experiences to what the employer is looking for. This should include a skill you have that matches the job description.
- If a person referred you to this position, mention the person’s name.
- Keep this paragraph short.
- It must attract enough attention to cause the reader to want to read the rest of your letter and your resume.
- This is your chance to show them you have researched the company.
The main paragraph of the letter should clearly state how your skills match the skills needed for the position you are applying for. Be specific about how your top three skills match the skills that are required for the position.
- List experiences, qualifications, career interests and values as they relate to the position.
- The body of your letter should further reflect the research you have done on the employer and elaborate on your interests and experience.
- The more you know about the employer through research, the more you can link your qualifications to the specific position.
The closing paragraph should bring closure to your letter.
- Thank the employer for taking the time to review your application materials.
- Restate the position in which you are applying for. For example: I hope you will find my qualifications make me a strong candidate for the position of Administrative Assistant.
- It is helpful to include your phone number and email here so that it is now located closest to your name.