Write a Cover Letter

While a resume provides information about you and what you have accomplished, it is the cover letter that enables you to convey your enthusiasm for a job/organization and to state why you are a good fit for the position. Many employers say that a strong cover letter can be the key to securing an interview. Be sure to focus your letter on what you can offer to them instead of what they can offer to you.



City, State  Zip Code


Contact Name
Contact Title
Name of Organization
City, State Zip Code 

Dear Mr./Dr./Ms.________ : (only use the last name; no first names. Use a colon, not a comma.)

Introduction and name of position you are applying for.  Specify what position you are applying for – use the exact title as it appears. Specify how you heard about the position – this is where you mention if someone referred you. Having the name of an employee as the source is a great way to get the recruiter’s attention. Write a transitional statement that summarizes why the employer should be interested (this is what you’ll expand on in the next two paragraphs).If you’re going for a job where academic credentials matter, you may open with your major and areas of study and any academic awards received (Order of Gownsmen, Dean’s List, Department Awards) If the job requires subject matter expertise, you might open with your experience at former internships or jobs.

Why this organization? What did you notice/admire about them from their materials/website/mission? What attracts you to this company and how can you help them in their mission? The meat of your cover letter will be the middle two paragraphs that build the case for why the employer should consider you (remember you are not trying to land the job in one move, just get the interview.) You want a compelling but logical structure, something that enables you to pick from the best of your background and is not just a chronological retelling of your resume.

Why are you a good fit for this position?  Focus on what you can do for them (rather than on what they can do for you.) Briefly mention skills or experiences you have had which are particularly relevant to the job posting. but do not repeat what is on your resume. If necessary, break this section  into two paragraphs.)

Action-oriented conclusion. Summarize your skills and experience. Yes, you just detailed it in two paragraphs, but you want to bring it all together in the close. Then thank the employer for the consideration – the words “thank you” must be somewhere in the close. Finally, invite them to contact you and tell them that you are looking forward to an interview. 


Your name

Your email address
Your phone number


Cover Letter CHECKLIST

  • Is it one page?

  • Is there one paragraph of introduction, 1-2 paragraphs to highlight your skills, and one paragraph to conclude?

  • Is there a strong opening sentence that creates a connection or an interest to the reader?

  • Is the letter addressed to a particular person and is the name correctly spelled? You may have to work hard to find the name of the person to whom your letter needs to be addressed, but you will have a much stronger letter if personally addressed versus the prospect of sending a letter that is poorly addressed (e. g. "Dear Human Resources:" or "To whom it may concern:".)

  • Is this letter tailored to the position and organization that I am applying for/to?

  • Are my margins about .75-1” all the way around?

  • Is it all single-spaced?

  • Is there one line between the addresses and dates in the heading?



    Are there three lines between the date and the contact info of the person you're writing? 
  • Is there one line between your heading (contact info) and the greeting?

  • Is there a colon (not a comma!) after your greeting ("Dear...:")?

  • Does the greeting use only the last name (Dear Dr. Smith:, NOT Dear Dr. Elaine Smith:)?

  • Is there a line between each paragraph?

  • Are all the paragraphs left-justified and NOT indented (block-style is best)?

  • Is there a line between your complimentary close ("Sincerely,") and typed name?

  • Is the spelling and grammar correct?

  • Is it free from slang phrases or contractions?

  • Have I read my cover letter out loud to listen for any missed words or awkward writing?

  • Has someone else proofread this letter?


Further Cover Letter Resources 

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