Career Action Center

Cover Letters

  • The purpose of a cover letter is to arouse the reader’s interest and explain why you’re well qualified for the position. It acts as an introduction to the resume.
  • Start by creating a standard cover letter and then prepare a customized version for each organization.
    Send a cover letter with each resume you distribute by regular mail, fax, or e-mail.
  • Copy the name, address, and phone number format from your resume and use it at the top of your letter. Use the same type of paper for the letter and resume. Print copies on a laser printer.
  • Address the letter to a specific person if possible. If the ad does not give a name, you can address it Dear Recruiter or Dear Hiring Manager. Another option is to skip the salutation line and replace it with a Regarding line. Place it after the organization’s address. Use the abbreviation Re (for Regarding) followed by a colon and the name/number of the job. For example: Re: Computer Technician #A5842.
  • Keep your letter short and to the point, never more than one page. You have about 60 seconds to convince someone to invite you for an interview.
  • Proofread your letter carefully. Have someone else proofread it, too. Spellchecker cannot catch all errors! Be sure to sign your letter.

Sample letter format:

First paragraph Give the name of the job you are applying for and how you heard about it.

Second paragraph Explain why you’re qualified for the job. Give accomplishments that show your ability to do the job. These may come from the resume but it’s a good idea to reword them slightly. Include other relevant background that does not appear on the resume. One easy format is using bullets to call attention to each major point. Mention your recent education plus your relevant work experience.

Third paragraph Close the letter with a statement such as, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sample Cover Letters