Career Services

Cover Letter Tips

There are two primary types of cover letter. A letter of inquiry is written to inquire about opportunities or request general information about a company. A letter of application is written to apply for a specific position. With both types of letter, you should attach a copy of your resume.

How should you format your letter?
  • When sending a resume via email, you may follow the cover letter format to introduce the attached resume, or create a brief email and attach both documents.
  • Your cover letter should not be a repetition of the wording on your resume.
  • Use block or modified block business letter format; keep the wording professional.
  • Laser-print the letter on high-quality paper that matches your resume.
Where should you direct your letter?
  • Try to send each letter to a specific person; make it personal.
  • If you do not have a contact name: Investigate the company website and other online resources for contacts and addresses or call the company and request the name of the person responsible for hiring college graduates in your career area.
  • Individualize the letter by incorporating information you have acquired through researching the company.
Before you send it:
  • DO write multiple drafts of your letter. Do NOT: sit down, write it, and send it. Come back to it after a while and make sure you’re happy with it.
  • Proofread your letter to ensure it is error‐free
  • Read it out loud to yourself to catch mistakes. Then, have two or three people edit/proofread before you send it.
  • Strive for perfection! Grammatical errors and misspellings will hurt you.
Parts of a Cover Letter
Top of Page

Be sure to include your return address, the current date, the employer’s address, and a salutation. If you do not know the company address, look it up. Details matter.

Introductory Paragraph
  • State your purpose for writing: “I am writing to apply for…” or “I am writing to request general information…”
  • State the specific job title of the position for which you are applying.
  • Mention how you heard about the job opening.
  • Indicate some knowledge of and/or interest in the organization.
Body Paragraph(s) 1‐2
  • Mention how your skills, education, and/or experience are relevant to the position and how they coincide with the organization’s needs.
  • Highlight your strengths and qualifications without repeating your resume. Use specific examples to provide evidence of skills, experiences, and accomplishments.
  • Check the job description for key words to add to your letter and tie in with your experience.
Closing Paragraph
  • Indicate what actions you would like to happen next.
  • Ask for an interview; state that you will follow up in the next two weeks but be careful not to use language that “assumes” anything, i.e., “I look forward to serving as the _______ for X company.”
  • Express your appreciation for the employer’s time and consideration.
  • Provide your phone number and email address to make it easy for them to contact you.
  • Be sure to sign your letter if sending in the mail.