Cover Letter Writing
Job Search Tools: Cover Letter Writing
A cover letter complements your resume, adding information that more specifically explains how your qualifications meet what the employer seeks in top candidates for a job.
A good cover letter is customized and will encourage your reader to review your resume for a more detailed profile.
- Send a single-page cover letter with every resume, including resumes sent via e-mail and fax (unless the job posting advises that you not send a cover letter).
- Effective cover letters indicate why you're the best candidate for the position. To get the interview, customize your letter for the job and company. Avoid a one-letter-fits-all format.
- Get the reader's attention in the first paragraph with a sentence that thoughtfully and specifically describes how your qualifications match what the employer is seeking. Indicate how you will add value to the company and team.
- In the following paragraph, include one or two specific examples from your work history, including the impact, related to how you meet the employer's needs. (New graduates may use examples from experience in college.)
- Present examples of accomplishments as a brief bulleted list. The list should add to, or at least rephrase, what is on your resume, not repeat it.
- Whenever possible, use words or phrases that are in the job posting (these are possible keywords).
- Experienced candidates and those at managerial and executive levels may include more than one middle paragraph, in order to present occupation-specific qualifications and leadership examples or themes.
- If you are intentionally targeting a position that is lower than typically expected, mention your reasoning.
- Exclude any reference to qualifications you might not have.
- If you indicate you'll follow up with a phone call, be certain to do so. Affirm your credibility; employers advise that this is where most candidates fail to follow through. Note: Even if you do not write that you intend to follow up, do so anyway.
- Take the time to demonstrate that you pay attention to details; proofread each cover letter carefully!
- View the Cover Letter Outline (PDF) topic for more info on preparing content.
- Check out Cover Letter Samples (PDF).
- "Cover Letter Magic" by Wendy S. Enelow and Susan Whitcomb
- "Cover Letters That Knock 'Em Dead" by Martin Yate
- “Winning Cover Letters” by Robin Ryan