Career Development Center




What to Include in a Cover Letter

Your name
Your street address or PO Box
Your city, state and zip code
Your phone number
Your e-mail address
Date you will mail letter

Name of contact person
Company Name
Their street address or PO Box
Their city, state and zip code

Dear Ms., Mr. or Dr. _____: (Never address “To Whom It May Concern,” or “Dear Sir or Madam,” If you absolutely cannot obtain a person’s name, then use the salutation “Dear Hiring Manager,” or similar.)

First Paragraph
Purpose: To grab the reader’s attention and establish interest in employment with that company.
• Provide an opening sentence which entices the reader to continue reading.
• Name the job for which you are applying for, also tell how you learned of the position.
• Mention the name of the person (if any) who referred you to the vacancy – preferably a colleague of the contact person.
• If you are unable to identify a contact, then mention specific knowledge of the company to indicate your interest

Second Paragraph
Purpose: Demonstrate your ability to add value to the company, and highlight your key strengths and abilities.
• Acknowledge the skills required by the position in which you are interested.
• State the specific skills/strengths you are prepared to bring to the company. These skills should parallel those qualities needed to succeed in the position you are applying for. Give examples of your skills and any related work experience (quantified results, accomplishments and achievements). Explain how these skills will transfer to the position for which you are applying.
• Try not to repeat the information on your resume; instead refer reader to enclosed resume or application.

Final Paragraph
Purpose: Ensure follow-up action and extend your appreciation for being considered
• It is best to indicate that you will take the initiative in contacting the employer. End your letter with an action statement. For example, “I will be contacting you on Wednesday afternoon to discuss scheduling an interview."
• Make it easy for the person to contact you. Even though it is on your resume, you should list phone number(s), days, and times when you can be reached.
• Thank them sincerely for their time and consideration of your application.

Sign your name in ink

Type your name

Enclosures: Resume


Cover letters present the opportunity for you to do several things:

1.  Demonstrate that you are interested in applying to that particular company.
2.  Highlight two or three strengths relevant to the position.
3.  Reflect on your unique experiences as it relates to the position.

How do you demonstrate that you are interested in a company?

Research about that company and include a bit of what you find in your cover letter.

How do you highlight your strengths?

While your resume presents your background in chronological form, your cover letter offers you the opportunity to draw your readers’ attention to a couple of your main strengths.

The best cover letters use specifics to back up general statements. These specifics can reflect your unique experiences and the strengths they represent.

The point is that your cover letter should emphasize your strengths, which are most effectively demonstrated through positive, concrete examples.

Here are a few practical tips:

1.  Keep record of all correspondence.
2.  The letter should be addressed to a particular individual in the company. If that person is not apparent from the website, call the company for that person’s name and title.
3.  Use simple, direct language and correct grammar.
4.  Use plain bond paper, off white, light beige or light gray. Use the same paper for your cover letters and resumes, and you can use matching envelopes as well.
5.  Strive for a “picture frame effect” with your margins. Business letters are folded in thirds and mailed in long envelopes, about 9 ½ inches long.
6.  Have a friend carefully proofread your letters for errors.
7.  Be sure to sign your letters.
8.  Ask for an interview.


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