Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Cover Letter Tips

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is an additional communication, most often sent with your resume, which further explains how you heard about a position, why you are interested in applying, and the skills that would make you a great fit. It is sometimes called an application letter or letter of inquiry, depending on if it is sent in response to a job opening or e-mailed to a company for which you would like to work. Employers receive hundreds of letters and resumes for each advertised position vacancy. Your letter, therefore, will have to be well written and designed to attract attention in a positive way.

Your cover letter should:

  • Communicate something personal about yourself and,
  • Include information that is specific for the division, organization, or company to which the letter is being sent.

This lets the reader know that you have spent some time researching the organization and writing a personal letter. When a cover letter is not tailored to the specific company and position, it will most likely elicit a negative reaction, if not be immediately disregarded. To receive a positive response, it is imperative that you research every company to which you apply in order to give knowledgeable and specific reasons for your interest in that company and how you can meet their needs. Do not repeat your resume; use the cover letter to interpret and expand the resume, by stressing relevant details through examples.

  • Communicate your ability to assist and support the organization.
  • State explicitly how your background relates to the specific job.
  • Emphasize your strongest and most pertinent characteristics.
  • Demonstrate that you know both the company and yourself, and why you are a fit.
  • Cover letters should never be duplicated.

Cover Letter Format

Each Cover Letter should be typed, single-spaced, one page in length, and addressed to a specific individual in charge of the department or unit in which you want to work or to the human resources department. Remember to use correct grammar and triple check the letter to avoid spelling, typographical, or grammatical errors. Lastly, save and submit your cover letter as a PDF file so your formatting will stay consistent no matter what program is used to open the document.

Remember: The letter and resume are examples of your written communication skills and organizational abilities. Because your letter of application must communicate your ambition and enthusiasm in a unique and assertive manner, a sample letter has not been provided. Check the template provided in the guidebook on page 26 and write your own letter that is unique to your background, skills, and experiences.

Cover Letter Template