Cover Letter Tips

General Guidelines

The cover letter is most likely the first thing that will be seen, so making a good first impression is critical and may make the difference between obtaining an interview and having your application ignored.

 

  • Don't try to create a generic cover letter.  Write a letter for every application that is specifically geared to specific elements of the position.
  • Try to get the name of a contact person to whom the letter can be addressed.  If at all possible, avoid addressing the letter "To whom it may concern".
  • Choose a font that is easy to read and standard on most computers. A serif font (such as Times New Roman, Georgia, or Century) will have a more "traditional" look and feel, while a sans serif font (such as Arial, Calibri, or Verdana) will have a more "modern" look and feel.  More stylized fonts (such as Comic Sans MS) are not generally recommended.  For most fonts, 10 or 12 pt will work best. In general, the cover letter should be limited to one page.
  • Explain your interest in this particular position.
  • Use keywords to help highlight your accomplishments and past experiences. (Online resources, such as this article by Allison Doyle, can assist you.)  Make sure to highlight skills that will be valuable to this specific employer.
  • Make certain there are no spelling or grammar errors.  Have someone(s) you trust proofread and critique the letter before sending.
  • Many campuses have Career and Employment Services or Writing Centers where you can have someone proofread your cover letter.

 

Content

 

Many excellent examples of cover letters are available online, such as this article by Alison Doyle.  Viewing samples to assist with idea generation is recommended.

General layout should include:

Your Contact Information
Name
Address
Phone number
Email address

Date

Employer Contact Information
Name (if available)
Title (If available)
Company / Institution
Address

Salutation (Dear Mr/Ms/Mrs)

First Paragraph: Introduce yourself and explain why you are interested in the position being offered.

Second Paragraph: Explain how experiences you have had tie into skills related to the desired position. Help the employer understand what you have to offer that makes you a perfect fit for the position.

Third Paragraph: Thank the employer for considering you for the position and let them know that you will follow up (and how you will do so).

Conclude with a closing, such as "Respectfully yours," "Best regards," or "Sincerely"

If you are sending a hard copy, end with a handwritten signature and a typed signature below that.