The cover letter is an important part of the first impression you create for a prospective employer. As an email or hard copy, it serves as your introduction when you are not present and represents your communication skills. While a cover letter may not always be required, it is a great way to explain to an employer who you are, what you can offer a company, and ultimately why you are a good fit for the position.
General Cover Letter Content (3-5 paragraphs)
Introduction (1 paragraph)
- Catch the employer’s attention quickly by leading with a strong statement
- Clearly express why you are writing
- State how you learned of the organization and job opening
- Express your interest in the organization and job
- Identify any connection(s) you have with the organization
Proof of qualifications (1-3 paragraphs)
- Expand on the information in your resume
Identify one or two of your strongest qualifications and clearly explain how these skills apply to the job
Refer to the job description, if applying to a specific position
Demonstrate that you have researched the organization
Explain how you are a good fit for the position and/or organization
Strong finish (1 paragraph)
- Re-emphasize your interest in the position
- Express your interest in an interview
- State that you will follow-up with a phone call (make sure you do call)
- Thank the reader for their time
Make sure to ...
- Address your cover letter to a specific person. Figure out who this person is and their title. If you cannot find the contact information, address your letter with “Dear Hiring Manager.”
- Write your cover letter in the traditional business format (even if you are sending email).
- Customize each letter to the position by analyzing the job description and highlighting the experience, skills, and education that the employer is seeking.
- Align your skills and experience with the position requirements in the cover letter.
- Demonstrate your industry and company knowledge through the use of industry-specific keywords.
- Use a professional email account and be sure to name your attached resume using your name, i.e. Last Name_Resume or First.Last_Resume.
- Proofread, proofread, and proofread! Errors are not professional.
- Have someone else read your letter before you send it.
- Use matching paper and fonts for the cover letter and resume if you are sending via mail or in person. This shows continuity and professionalism.
Thank you letters
Thank You Note Guidelines
- Thank you notes should be sent for job interviews, informational interviews, job shadows, and any other career development opportunities where you interact with employers, alumni, etc.
- Ask for a business card from the person(s) who interviewed you so you have their contact information
- Send a thank you note within 24 hours
- Use 1-inch side margins and make sure the body of the letter is centered within the page
- You may email your thank you note or print it on business stationary and send it via mail
- When using letter format, print the letter and matching envelope on business stationary
- Avoid “text-speak” when composing your thank you note: ex: thx, r, u, thru, etc.
- Check for grammatical errors by proofreading
Thank You Note Layout
- Thank the employer for meeting with you
- Express your enthusiasm for the position/organization/experience.
- Indicate which day you interviewed with the individual – they see many applicants
- Indicate the position you applied for – recruiters recruit for more than one position
- After an interview, re-emphasize your strongest qualifications by drawing attention to your skills, experience, or commitment to the position/organization
- After an informational interview, recall something you learned or gained
- Mention something specific you discussed with the individual. This personalizes you.
- Thank the individual again
- Reiterate your interest in the position
- Provide your phone number and email address
accepting and declining offers
Accepting an offer
- Accept offers in good faith
- Confirm and accept the job, verify logistics such as starting date and completion of paperwork
- Express excitement for the new position and appreciation for the opportunity
- Thank and notify all other employers for which you are a candidate, that you have accepted a position
Declining an offer
- Decline an offer promptly and graciously
- Acknowledge the position that was offered
- Express appreciation for the employer’s time and consideration