What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is the "cover page" for your application. It is a one-page, three- to four-paragraph letter that serves as a writing sample for the employer. Its content must be interesting and grasp the employer's interest enough to make them want to read your resume. Even if it is not required, you should submit a cover letter specifically tailored to each position you apply for.
- Do not restate the experience on your resume. Focus instead on how your skills match the job description.
- It's all about the employer, so don't focus on yourself. Your cover letter's main goal is to convince the hiring manager that hiring you would benefit the organization.
- Address your letter to the hiring manager. If you can't find information on the hiring manager, address your letter to "Selection Committee."
- Minimize "I" statements. Write assertive statements that do not all begin with "I feel," "I think," etc. to show confidence and reduce redundancy.
Outline for writing a cover letter
- Opening paragraph: Statement of Purpose
- Open with a captivating introductory sentence, name the position you're applying for, and how you learned about the position.
- Middle paragraph(s): Explanation of Qualifications
- Part 1: Write about why you're applying to this organization. Include the organization's purpose and/or goals and how the position relates to them.
- Part 2: Explain why you're a great candidate for the position. List the reasons you're interested in the position and how your relevant skills will allow you to fulfill the responsibilities in the job description.
- Closing paragraph: Conclusion
- Begin with one or two strong lines that summarize your qualifications, thank the reader for their consideration, and express your enthusiasm about meeting with them to discuss the opportunity.
Need more help with your cover letter?
- Check out our Cover Letter Guide and sample cover letters for more in-depth writing guidelines:
- Attend a workshop taught by a career adviser
- Come to the Career Center during drop-in hours with one of our peer advisers for help writing your cover letter
- Schedule an appointment with a career adviser on SlugQuest. To learn about the advisers' areas of expertise, click here.
- Watch a video on how to write an effective cover letter.