Tips for Writing a Cover Letter

Cover letters are used to create interest in you as a candidate for jobs and/or internships and are an important part of the application process. Each cover letter you write must be unique. The goal is to motivate the recipient to review your résumé and ultimately invite you for an interview. A good letter will clearly demonstrate how you fit with the particular organization and position to which you are applying.

Steps to Writing a Strong Cover Letter

  1. Learn about the organization. What are the goals and mission? Why are you interested in working for them?
  2. Review the position description. Highlight key words, skills, and required experiences. How do your skills and experiences connect?
  3. Write down examples that showcase the skills and experiences you want to highlight. Connect your academics, involvement, work, etc. to the requirements of the position.
  4. Clearly write out why you are a good candidate. Provide 2-3 examples that demonstrate your qualifications. Be specific. Highlight what you have to offer.

Cover Letter Format

  1. Confine your letter to one page, single spaced. Use the same 10-12 point simple font style you chose for your résumé.
  2. Address the letter to an individual. Make a phone call if necessary to get the appropriate person’s name and title. 
  3. Avoid using “to whom it may concern” when addressing a cover letter. If unable to find a name use Dear Hiring Manager or Dear Recruiter, Search Committee, etc.
  4. Including your written signature is not required when submitting documents electronically.

General Guidelines

  • Write in a professional, confident, and polite tone, but let your personality and enthusiasm for the employer and position come through. 
  • Avoid negative phrases such as, “Although I never . . .” and “While I don’t . . .”
  • Proofread carefully and check for grammar, spelling and typos. Do not rely on spell check alone!

If you’re interested in an organization but not a specific position, consider writing a LETTER OF INQUIRY: 

Used to ask about vacancies, get your résumé read, and network. It is similar to a cover letter, but begins with a statement such as “I am writing to inquire about employment.

Learn more about cover letter and formatting tips in our Career Guide!

By Daisy DeMasi
Daisy DeMasi Daisy DeMasi