Career Services Center

Cover Letter Tips

The cover letter is sometimes overlooked yet it is a very important part of your first contact with a potential employer.

In today’s competitive market, many employers have mentioned that they find a well-written cover letter to be more important to granting an interview than the resume.

It is important to spend time creating a cover letter that is impressive and displays your letter writing skills.

Contents

Your cover letter should be designed specifically for each company you are writing to and customized for each position you seek.

It should follow this outline:

  1. Opening paragraph

    • Express your interest the position.

    • Tell where you heard about the organization or position.

    • Demonstrate your knowledge of the organization or field.

  2. Body

    • Highlight a few major points of your background in relation to the job.

    • Illustrate how your qualifications meet the organization’s needs.

  3. Closing

    • Summarize how you fit the organization.

    • Request action. Ask for an interview.

    • Suggest a date that you will call or email to follow up. Make sure to follow up during that period.

Guidance

  • Do not send a generic cover letter. Personalize each letter and show quality. Show the employer you have done research on the company.

  • Employers may have to read through hundreds of cover letters and do not want to read a long letter. Keep it three or four paragraphs and to the point.

  • Make sure your letter has no grammar or spelling errors. Employers often mention that these avoidable errors create a poor first impression.

  • Address your letter to a specific person, even if it means calling the organization to get that information.

  • Avoid opening phrases, such as “To whom it may concern,” “Dear Gentlemen,” or “Dear Sirs,”.

  • Avoid being overly funny or aggressive.

  • Keep a copy of all your cover letters with the job description for future reference.

See an example Cover Letter [pdf].

 

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