Cover Letter Content

Top of the Page

  • Include your return address (use the same header as your résumé), the current date, the employer's address, and a salutation
  • If you don't know the employer address, look it up. If you don't have a contact person, get in touch with the employer to determine to whom you should address the letter.
  • Use business-style format. Follow your salutation with a colon, not a comma. Your text should be aligned to the left.

Introductory Paragraph

  • Explain who you are and why you're writing (for example, responding to an advertised opening)
  • Mention the specific job title for which you are applying
  • Demonstrate knowledge of and/or interest in the employer (for example, a product or service)
  • Mention your organizational contact/referral, if you have one

Body Paragraph(s)

  • Tell them why you're a good match for them (how your skills/experiences match their needs--your thesis!)
  • Mention how your skills, education, and experience are relevent to the position and how they coincide with the employer's needs (provide 2-3 examples from you key selling point list to support your thesis!)
  • Highlight your strengths and qualifications without repeating everything on your résumé
  • Use keywords from the job description to tie in with your experience
  • Illustrate brevity through language that is direct and to the point (not fluffy)

Closing Paragraph

  • Mention your résumé
  • State what you want--an interview and/or an opportunity to discuss further your qualifications and employment opportunities (key takeaway: ask for an interview!)
  • State your plan to follow up, but be careful not to use language that assumes anything (i.e. "I look forward to serving as you summer intern.")
  • Be assertive ("I will contact you next week to inquire about scheduling an interview.") rather than passive ("I look forward to hearing from you.")
  • Indicate flexibility as to time and place, or if applying to an out-of-town employer, indicate your willingness to travel for an interview or when you plan to be in the area next, if you will be
  • Provide your phone number and email address
  • Express your thanks and appreciation for the employer's time and consideration
  • Sign your letter, if sending a hard copy