The Purpose of a Cover Letter
A well-written cover letter will get your resume read and generate interviews. It adds a personal touch to your application and serves as a writing sample as well. When accompanied by your resume, cover letters demonstrate that you are a serious, professional candidate who is sincerely interested in the position available.
For sample cover letters and more helpful information, download our Career Resource Guide 2016-2017.
Cover Letter Basics
- Font size should be 10, 11, or 12 pt.
- Use a font that is easy to read (Times New Roman, Helvetica or Arial)
- If you are emailing your letter, a signature is not required
- Use the same quality paper as your resume
- Keep it short; the aim of the letter is to get your potential employer to read your resume.
Cover Letter Tips
Tip #1 - Customize
Make sure you take the time to customize your cover letter to fit the employer’s requirements. Before you start the writing process, review the criteria for the position and make a list of the skills and keywords the employer wants. This list might include specific areas of expertise, years of experience, technical knowledge, transferable skills, and personality traits. Then incorporate these items into your letter, demonstrating by example that you have the desired qualifications. Finally, direct your letter to a specific individual. If necessary, call the company to find out who will be receiving the letter. If there is no way to find a person’s name, ‘Dear Sir/Madam,’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern:’ are appropriate as a last resort.
Tip #2 - Meet Their Needs
Write the cover letter with the employers’ needs in mind - not your own. Don’t describe what YOU want, but explain what you can do for the employer. Don’t assume that the employers will read between the lines of your resume and dig out the relevant information. They won’t. To get their attention, you have to describe how you can meet their needs.
Tip #3 - Actively Sell Yourself
Tell them WHY they should hire you. Be assertive about your qualifications without being egotistical. The tone of your letter should be professional, but sound as if a real person wrote it. One way to judge your letter is to read it out loud. Do you trip over the words? If so, work on it until it flows naturally and has a conversational tone.