Cover Letters

It is strongly recommended that you write a cover letter to go with every resume that you submit. They should compliment each other by providing supporting information. Cover letters allow you to tell the employer what position you are applying for, what skills and experience you possess, why you are the best candidate for the position, and how the employer can get in touch with you.While highlighting your unique, special, and most related qualifications, cover letters also let you demonstrate your communication and writing skills. Like your resume, cover letters should be customized for each employer. It is your responsibility to research the position and company so you can determine what skills and experiences are most relevant to highlight to the employer.If you are sending your resume and cover letter electronically to an employer, by sure to attach them as two separate attachments.

Format

Cover letters are formatted as a formal business letter and generally consists of 3-4 paragraphs.Cover letters include the following section:

  • Header - Includes your contact information and should be in same format as your resume. Include the date you are applying, the company name, and address.
  • Salutation - Address the employer as Dear Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.  if you know the person's title for sure. If you are unsure of the title of the contact person use “Attention” then their name. In case of a confidential contact, use Attn. HR Manager or Hiring Manager. Avoid using "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Whom It May Concern" if at all possible. Take the time to find a contact name so you know who to address the letter and who to follow up with to confirm your application has been received, etc. 
  • Introduction - Identify the position and/or department you want to work in, where you learned of the position (newspaper, internet, employment service etc.). If a person you know is connected to the company in some way or is a company employee and they informed you of the position, be sure to mention their name as a personal connection to the company as this adds credibility to your application. Indicate why you're interested in the position/company based on the research you have done.
  • Body - This is where you demonstrate your suitability for the position complimenting your resume by summarizing and/or expanding on your most relevant skills and/or experiences. You can match your experience to specific skills the employer wants such as degree related, technical, or work related. You can also identify transferable skills that they employer is looking for. It is very important to give specific and good examples using strong action words to support the skills you are highlighting.
  • Closing - Indicate your availability to further discuss the position and to meet at the employer’s convenience. You may also restate contact information and any follow-up procedures. Provide a Signature, sign in black or blue pen (if mailing or dropping off in person) and end the letter with “Yours Truly” or “Sincerely” and type your name.

Other Resources

For more information on creating professional cover letters view webinars in the Employment Toolbox, check out the Calendar of Events for upcoming workshops, check out the External Resources, or book a one-on-one consultation with the employment advisor.