Make Your Cover Letter Count
A cover letter is a formal way of introducing yourself to an employer. It also provides you with an opportunity to make a good first impression. You should include a cover letter with your resume unless otherwise directed by the employer. Write your cover letter with care, since the employer often uses the letter to evaluate your writing ability and professionalism.
Need help getting started? Take advantages of the resources available to you: review the tips listed below, or go to Training Courses to sign up for resume and cover letter writing classes that can help guide you in the right direction. Though you should write individual cover letters each time you apply for a position, if you have a cover letter already and are not getting the results you want, contact the Career Center to make an appointment for a cover letter critique.
Tips for writing your Cover Letter
- Before you start writing, review the criteria for the position and make a list of what the employer is looking for.
- Address the letter to a particular individual or Hiring Department (Examples: Dear Sir or Madame, Dear Hiring Manager, or Dear Mr. Smith)
- Personalize each letter according to each job for which you are applying. Tailor your background to the organization and the list you made above of what the employer wants.
- Focus on what you can offer the employer and how you can meet their needs. Emphasize your most important qualifications and skills. Tell them why they should hire you.
- Make sure the letter is free of typos and grammatical errors.
- Keep your letter simple, limited to one page, and include 3-4 paragraphs if appropriate.
- Basic structure for a cover letter:
- Paragraph 1: Get the attention of the hiring manager. Tell them why you are writing.
- Paragraph 2: Briefly describe your qualifications for the position and the most relevant experience in your resume.
- Paragraph 3: Explain why they should hire you for the job or why you feel you are the best fit based on your experience in paragraph 2.
- Paragraph 4: Close your letter by thanking the hiring manager for taking the time to consider your application. Also include how the hiring department can reach you.