A cover letter introduces your qualifications and resume and declares your interest in the employer. It is often the first correspondence an organization receives from you and is therefore their first impression of you. This is your opportunity to market yourself and explain what you have to offer the employer.
Cover Letter Writing Tips
- Take the time to customize your cover letter for each organization and for each position.
- Highlight specific examples from your relevant experience that demonstrate why you're a match for the position and company. Point out accomplishments and achievements; do not simply repeat your resume content.
- Provide enough information and detail but be concise. The cover letter should be approximately one page in length.
- Proof your letter for grammar and spelling errors. It is a reflection of you and your communication skills.
Electronic Cover Letters
If you’re submitting resume online by email, your cover letter is your email. Begin your email with a standard greeting and put your contact information at the end of your message. Attach your resume in a PDF or Word document.
Always be professional and formal in the communication style you use in an email. Avoid using abbreviations that you use when you text your friends (that means nix the LOL and thx). Any time you’re using email to communicate with a mentor, an advisor, or a professor, use the same formal language style that you would use if you wanted a job.
Watch the "Cover Letter" video, part of our Employer Tips video series.
Cover Letter Samples
Cover Letter Resources
Additional Job Search Letters
Thank You: The thank you letter is a must! Send this within 24 hours after an interview or after you meet with a recruiter at a networking event. Include a reference to the conversation you had to demonstrate learning and help the contact remember you. Reaffirm your interest in the position and enthusiasm about the company.
Use email for your thank you letter if your previous correspondence with the employer has been electronic. Handwritten letters or cards are more personal and can be appropriate for brief notes to individuals, such as mentors or professors, who may have helped with your job search in other ways.
Networking: Use to request a meeting (not an interview) with an employer/professional to gather information. Similar to the cover letter in style and tone, but shorter in details about your experience.
Prospecting: Similar to the networking letter, but more general in nature. You are writing to determine if there are any job openings within the organization.
Acceptance: Use to accept a job offer. It should be relatively short and confirm details such as start date or salary and to positively reinforce the employer’s decision to hire you.
Withdrawal: It is your ethical obligation to inform other prospective employers you have accepted a position with another organization and you are removing your name from consideration for their position. Be brief but sure to express thanks for their interest in you. Rather than saying you found a “better job,” indicate the position you accepted fits better with your personal and career needs.
Rejection: Use if an employer has offered you a position and you are not going to accept it. Be brief but be sure to express your thanks for their interest in you.