Cover Letters 101

Cover Letter Videos -- Great cover letter advice from

Q: Do I Need a Cover Letter?  A: Yes

  • A cover letter goes hand and hand with a resume. It deserves equal attention.
  • A terrific resume might never be read if the cover letter doesn't provide the "hook!”
  • Consider the cover letter as your first impression.
  • A good cover letter does not repeat your resume, it provides additional information, and highlights your strengths.
  • Show that you have done research on the type of work, position and the organization.

Cover Letter Tips

  • Use standard 8 ½ x 11 paper, the same paper as your resume, with matching envelopes and letterhead.
  • Stick to one page.
  • Word process and then check and recheck for spelling, grammar, and typographical errors.
  • Address your letter to a specific person with correct title (avoid “To Whom it May Concern”).
  • Tailor your letter to a specific position (if possible).
  • Write the letter in your own words so it sounds like you – not like something out of a book.
  • Visit the Career Services for a cover letter critique.

Cover Letter Construction -- Paragraph 1

  • State the reason for the letter.
  • Name the specific position or type of work for which you are applying.
  • Indicate how you learned of the opening (referral, newspaper, Career Fairs, job posting, etc.).
  • State why you are interested in the position/organization. 

Cover Letter Construction -- Paragraph 2

  • Indicate and briefly illustrate how your academic background and other experiences make you a good candidate.
  • Mention relevant skills you have developed through your experiences (summer jobs, volunteer positions, internships, community service, campus leadership and activities, etc.).
  • Explain what you can do for the employer (use your knowledge of the organization).

Cover Letter Construction -- Final Paragraph

  • Explain your interest in discussing the position or other possibilities within the company/organization.
  • Repeat your phone number and/or e-mail address.
  • Offer to produce additional information if desired.
  • Close with a statement or question that will encourage a response (e.g., you will be in the city on a certain date and would like to set up an interview). 

TIP: Don't forget to sign your cover letters.