When initially contacting an employer about a job opportunity, it is recommended that you accompany your resume with a cover letter (also known as a letter of application). A cover letter should be prepared just as carefully as your resume because it contributes to the first impression you will make on an employer. One of the benefits of a cover letter is that it allows you to expand on information in your resume and how it specifically relates to the position for which you are applying. It also illustrates your written communication skills.
The guidelines found on this page will help you put together your own individualized Cover Letter. Please also see the Sample Cover Letters in the highlight box to the right for your reference.
Remember! Once a cover letter is written, it can serve as a basic framework and then be tailored to other positions for which you apply.
Cover Letter Format
- Header - Use the same header (your contact information) for your resume, cover letter, and
- Length - Limit your letter to one page with three to five paragraphs (10 point to 11 point
font looks best)
- Paper - Use white or pastel colored paper - use the same paper for your resume, cover letter, and references page
Remember to check your grammar, spelling and capitalization – it MUST be ERROR FREE!
Cover Letter Content
Include the date, employer's name, title, employer and address as with any business letter.
Address your cover letter to a specific contact person/person hiring if possible, or if that information is not available, to "Dear Human Resources Director," "Dear Hiring Manager," "Dear College Recruiter," or "Dear Search Committee Chair."
- Sentence structure - DO NOT start every sentence with "I" – be sure to vary the sentence structure.
- Select highlights from your educational and work experiences that speak directly to the position instead
of repeating all that's on your resume.
- 1st paragraph - State how you learned of the position, and you should mention the position title
and company or organization name. NOTE: If you are applying for any position for which
you may qualify, you may state this.
- 2nd paragraph - Summarize your recent accomplishments, including getting your college degree, what
you learned in your program of study, special course projects worked on, and skills
developed from these experiences.
- 3rd paragraph - Discuss highlights from your work experiences, student organization memberships,
internships, and/or volunteer experiences that are relevant to the position for which
- 4th paragraph - Indicate WHY you want to work for this particular company/organization - base this
statement on knowledge of the company/organization you acquired through your company
research. See How Do I Research Companies? to get started!
- Final paragraph - Tactfully suggest your availability for an interview, and where and how you can be reached.