A cover letter (also called a letter of introduction or letter of application) is used in response to an advertised position. It’s another way to introduce yourself to a future employer while highlighting your relevant skills, abilities, and experience. A strong cover letter can be the difference between standing out during the application process or missing a potential opportunity.
Introduce yourself and inform the reader why you are writing, how you learned of the position, and of any personal contacts you may have with the organization. Mention aspects of the organization that interest you based on your research.
Second and Third Paragraphs
Clearly express why you want this position and how you are a good fit for the position and/or company. Inform the reader(s) of your skills and qualifications and how they can benefit the company. Focus on 2-3 specific qualifications and provide examples of how you’ve demonstrated the skills they are looking for. Use your voice to help bring life and personality to your application.
Summarize and reiterate how your skills and qualifications can match their needs. Request a specific follow up (generally an interview) and give the employer 1 or 2 good ways to contact you. Thank the reader for his/her time and let them know a specific date, generally within a week, that you will follow up with them.
Additional Types of Letters
In addition to the cover letter, there are three other types of letters commonly used in the job search.
- Letters of inquiry: used to ask about available or anticipated positions
- Follow-up: used to announce any follow-up correspondence (e.g., forwarding a transcript, references, checking on application status)
- Thank you: used to show appreciation to anyone who has helped you in your job search
Cover letter template [PDF]
Cover Letter Tips
Keep to 1 page in length
Tailor a cover letter for each position you apply for
Remove words or phrases that add length, not substance
Never address a cover letter “To Whom it May Concern:”
Make sure there are no grammatical or punctuation mistakes
Use the same font style in your cover letter that is used in your résumé
Focus on specific skills and how you are an ideal candidate for the position and organization