Writing a Resume > Cover Letter

Guidelines in writing cover letters

A cover letter introduces you - and your resume - to a prospective employer. In it, you state what type of position you're seeking, and explain how your particular mix of skills and experiences would meet the employer's needs. At the end of the letter, you request an interview.

Cover letters are important whether you're sending a mass mailing or responding to an advertisement. They give employers a context for your resume, clarify why you're specifically interested in their organization, and allow them a glimpse of your writing ability and style. Because you may be evaluated on form as well as content, aim for a letter that is cohesive, grammatically correct, and error free. The tone of your letter should be polite yet assertive. The Career Resource Center Counselors are happy to proof-read your cover letters during drop-in hours or by appointment. (Click here for General Office Information). However, here are some guidelines to help you get started:

  • Address the letter to a specific person (phone the organization to ask for a name if necessary). Spell names and titles correctly.
  • Write letters in a standard business format.
  • Be sure to include contact information (your name, address, and phone number).
  • Get your reader's attention and identify why you are writing in the first paragraph.
  • Incorporate what you have to offer with what you know about the organization's needs.
  • Draw attention to items on your resume that are specifically relevant to the position you seek; also mention anything not on your resumes that is relevant to the employer.
  • Vary sentence structure to create interest, and avoid beginning too many sentences with "I".
  • Keep your letter to one page.
  • Proofread - then have somebody else proofread!!
  • Use the same bond paper and laser-quality print as your resume.
  • Personally sign each letter.