How to Write Cover Letters

A cover letter or letter of interest should always accompany each resume and/or application. It is an essential part of the job search process. This letter introduces you and your resume, explaining both your reasons for writing and your qualifications for the position. The cover letter should be typed in business format and printed on the same color and quality of paper as your resume.

Cover Letter Guidelines

Always Target Your Message

A cover letter that shows how your skills and experience relate to the specific position is more effective than a generic “all-purpose” cover letter.

Highlight Your Accomplishments With Measurable Results

Show how your credentials match the requirements of the job.  Incorporate information that reflects your knowledge of the organization, its industry and relevant issues.  This is the perfect place to “editorialize” about the accomplishments cited in your resume.

Show What You Have to Offer

Make sure you demonstrate how your skills, expertise and past accomplishments can benefit the employer.  This is your opportunity to make yourself more attractive to the employer by showing that you have something the employer can use.  The cover letter is not the place to be self-serving. 

Use Standard Business Protocol

Write clearly and concisely, and check your letter for spelling and grammar.  Employers have disqualified good candidates because the resume was poorly constructed.  Select white or a light colored paper that matches your resume and envelope.

Send Your Letter to a Specific Person

Identify the person who is likely to make the hiring decisions.  It may require resourcefulness and tenacity, but the benefits will outweigh the time and effort.  You may need to make several phone calls to learn the contact’s name, correct spelling and title.

For more information, example format, and sample cover letters, check out our Resource Guide [pdf]