Cover Letters

A cover letter is a professional letter that accompanies your resume. It tells the employer what job you're applying for and a little bit about yourself. A good cover letter answers two questions: “Why should I hire you and why do you want to work here?” For every application, rewrite your cover letter to fit the organization’s missions and values.

Guidelines

As you write, be sure to address the following questions. Download this cover letter guide (pdf) for tips on how to answer these questions.

  • What are you applying for?
  • Why are you the best person for the job
  • Why do you want to work for the organization?
  • Why do you want to work for the organization/company?
  • Did you use proper spelling, grammar and professional writing?

Body of a Cover Letter

  • Opening paragraph: Try to grab the reader’s attention by clearly stating why you are worth interviewing. Mention a name of someone at the company who referred you.
  • Middle paragraph(s): Answer the question of “Why should they hire you?” Describe your skills and experiences through stories of what you accomplished at previous jobs. State why you want to work for their organization and how you fit their organizational mission and values.
  • Closing paragraph: Wrap up your letter with a powerful close. Restate why you are a worthy candidate. If appropriate for the position, consider teasing out an idea that you have for their organization. Make sure they know how to reach you. 

Format

  • Layout: Use a business letter format.
  • Contact information: Either follow the business letter format for including your contact information and the contact information of the recipient. Or, for your contact information, us the same letterhead that you used in your resume.
  • Salutation: Try to find out who will be reading your application rather than using To Whom It May Concern.
  • Closing: Use a professional close, such as Sincerely.
  • Signature: Leave 4 return spaces. Physically sign any paper applications mailed in.
  • Enclosure: List each additional document included in your application, such as resume, references, application, etc.

Examples