What is a cover letter?
A letter introducing your skills and experiences that accompanies a resume sent to prospective employers.
What key points should I keep in mind when writing a cover letter?
Tailor each letter to the position to which you are applying. Tie your skills/experiences to the needs
of the position and the organization.
Tell the employers what you can do for them — not what they can do for you! You need to
think like the employer.
Cover Letter Spotlight Video:
What does it mean to “think like the employer?”
Think about what information the employer wants to know about you. Imagine that your job is to fill this position, what skills and experiences do you think will be important? An employer will ask him/herself about you...
1) What has this person accomplished in the past?
2) Does this person have the skills to do the job available?
3) What kind of contributions can I expect in the future from this
4) Will this person fit in with the team I already have in place?
5) Why does this person want to work for our organization?
Being able to address these questions will likely require you to research the organization and be
familiar with the position description and qualifications before writing your letter.
Can I use the same cover letter when submitting a resume to different organizations?
No, you should individualize each cover letter to the position and organization.
NOTE: Cover letters are not required when you attend job fairs, on-campus interviews and some personal contacts.
When submitting a cover letter via email, attach it as a pdf or Word document; do not include it in the body of your email. Use the email to briefly introduce yourself, express your interest in the position and reference the attached documents (cover letter, resume).
What five tips will benefit a job seeker most when writing a cover letter?
1) Your cover letter is a writing sample; make it your best work. Employers look for clear, concise, and
persuasive writing with perfect grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
2) Present yourself in the best light, but don’t exaggerate or inflate your skills, experiences and
3) Proofread, proofread, proofread! Ask someone with proofreading skills you trust, to read over
your cover letter. Take it to the Writing Center.
4) Demonstrate specific knowledge of the organization. Research the employer and reference
something unique about the organization in your letter and why you want to work for them.
5) Focus on the skills and qualifications you bring to the position.
Cover Letter Preparation and Format
The recommended length of the cover letter is approximately 200 words and 3 to 4 paragraphs.
Always limit the letter to one page and address your cover letter to a specific person if possible.