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Cover Letter

Cover letters allow you to introduce yourself and highlight unique experiences that align with what the reader is seeking in efforts to make you stand out. The cover letter not only allows the reader to gain a better understanding of your skills and qualifications, it also conveys your written communication skills.

    • Address your letter to an actual person.
      • Your letter will be more effective when you address the letter to a specific person within an organization.
        Don’t hesitate to call the organization directly to find out the name (and correct spelling!) and title of the
        person in charge. If you are unable to get a specific name, “Dear Hiring Manager”, “Dear Human
        Resources Manager”, or “Dear Director” are acceptable alternatives.
    • Personalize each letter.
      • Research the employer.What better way to send a letter with direct impact than to focus on facts unique to this particular employer? Use the information obtained through research to demonstrate that you know something about the company while also explaining why you want to work for the organization.
    • Stay at one page
      • Three to four short paragraphs are plenty for an employer to read; any longer and it may not be read.
    • Avoid “feeling” statements.
      • Avoid using feeling statements such as “I believe,” “I feel,” or “I hope.” Instead, use phrases that express confidence like “I am confident that…”, “I am convinced” or “I strongly believe that…” Be confident and positive, but do not overstate your confidence.
    • Make it about them, not about you.
    • Have your cover letter and resume match.
      • For a polished, professional image, print your resume and cover letter on matching resume paper and
        enclose them in a matching envelope. Avoid using colored paper and graphics. Stay conservative.
    • Proofread.
      • Keep in mind that the professional image you want to give to a prospective employer includes a neatly
        typed, grammatically correct and accurate letter and resume (NO TYPOS!). The best way to check for
        mistakes is to have others read and view it before sending it to employers. REMEMBER, your cover letter
        and resume represent YOU, so make it leave the best impression.
    • Use a standard business-letter format
      • Your mailing address
      • Date
      • Recipients mailing address
    • Another option is to use the same header as your resume
    • Follow the same general formatting you did on your resume, such as font style and font size.
    • If you are printing your cover letter, do so on the same paper as your resume.

Cover Letter Sections

  • In the header of your cover letter you want to include your contact information. This can either be done by using the same header as your resume or by using a standard business letter format (return address, date, mailing address.)

  • In the first paragraph you want to talk specifically about the position and company you are writing to. You want the reader to know you took the time to write this letter specifically for them.

    Begin by stating the position to which you are applying. If you know someone who works for the organization, or if you were referred to the position, mention this. Personalize each letter by researching the organization and state how the organization’s mission/values/goals are in alignment with your own. Stay focused on the qualifications you bring to the employer, not what the employer can do for you.

  • The second, and possibly third paragraph, should highlight how your education and experience qualify you for the position. Use the key qualifications in the opportunity you are seeking to to tailor this position. Take the time to show the reader you are qualified by explaining the specifics about your experience(s) and education.

    Should you talk about your education or experience first? Well, that depends on what most qualifies you for the opportunity.

    • If you have related experience (internship, full time employment, related part time employment), talk about your experience first. After you have talked about your experience then talk about your education and relevant coursework as it applies to the position.
    • If you do not have related experience, which is common, talk about how your education has prepared you for the position. This might include your coursework along with involvement.
  • To wrap up your cover letter, restate your interest in the opportunity and thank the employer for their consideration. Mention you would like to further discuss the opportunity and you are able to provide more information if needed. Include your email and phone number so the reader can easily reach you.