A cover letter (sometimes called a letter of inquiry or letter of application) is a business-style letter that accompanies every resume you send to prospective employers. It serves as an introduction, telling the employer who you are and why you are sending a resume. If written well, your letter will highlight the special features of your education and experience that qualify you for the particular position or organization.
Good cover letters are generally alike in that they share...
A personal approach
As employers do not look favorably on cover letters which look "mass produced", it is important to personalize your cover letter. Try to address your letter to a specific individual within an organization rather than "To Whom it May Concern." It is often possible to find contact information online, usually on the organization's website or by way of a keyword search. You can also call organizations directly and ask a receptionist for the name of the appropriate contact. If it is impossible to obtain the person's name, you can address the letter with a salutation such as "Dear Recruiter:" If you are unsure of the contact's gender, use the first and last name in the salutation so that it reads: "Dear Pat Smith:"
A clear, concise presentation of interest, skills and intent
Your cover letter will have the most impact if it is targeted to match each particular organization or position being sought. The letter should emphasize ways you can fulfill the organization's needs. Be direct about your interest in the organization and what you can offer; say it clearly and concisely. As with your resume, be prepared to back up any information you include in the letter. If you make claims, support them with evidence.
A glimpse of the author
Although this is a formal document, the style doesn't need to be stiff. Allow your personality to come through and strive to project interest and enthusiasm, both about what you have to offer them, and what they can offer you. A good cover letter will communicate interest, motivation, and self-confidence. While you want to be upbeat and positive, avoid exaggerated statements such as "I've always wanted to work for your firm/organization" since they will likely not ring true to the reader.
All employers want people with excellent communication skills. Your cover letter demonstrates your writing skills, so write thoughtfully. Pay particular attention to grammar, typing and spelling, and avoid trite language and the temptation to turn your cover letter into an extensive autobiography.
Nice paper and readable fonts
Your cover letters should follow a traditional business letter format (see samples). Use a good quality paper stock (preferably the same type of paper on which your resume was printed), and a font which is easy to read.
COVER LETTER SAMPLES and TIPS
COVER LETTER CHECKLIST
A checklist can be especially helpful as you finish up your cover letter to make sure it is ready to send out.
COVER LETTER CRITIQUES AND WORKSHOPS
Career and Employment Services counselors can review and provide feedback on cover letters. To schedule an appointment, please call 806.371.5147.
Career Services also offers workshops on resume and cover letter writing throughout the school year. To see our list of upcoming workshops, please click here.