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What is a Cover Letter?
Many employers will ask you to include a cover letter along with your resume when applying for a job or internship. A cover letter is intended to provide an employer with more information on your specific skills and experience, and what makes you qualified for a job. Rather than repeating the information contained in your resume, think of your cover letter as an opportunity for you to introduce yourself to employers in a more personalized way than what a resume allows.
Our example cover letter can help you get started.
Writing a Cover Letter
A basic, professional cover letter should follow the following format:
1st paragraph – This should include some basic information about you, including your name, your major, the position you are applying for, and when you are expected to graduate/when you are available to start.
- If your GPA is above 3.0, it’s a good idea to include it here
2nd paragraph – This is should detail why you want to work for this employer. Before writing this paragraph, do some research into this organization or industry and find specific reasons why you are attracted to this company, including any personal connection you may have to the industry, work that they do that you find inspiring, the availability of career advancement opportunities, etc.
- Never use generic substitutes such as “your company,” “your organization,” or “your business,” This makes the letter sound impersonal. While it is time consuming to individualize cover letters, the more personal the letter is, the more effective it will be!
3rd paragraph – This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Here, include your accomplishments that you think are applicable to the position, and explain how your strengths and skills will make you a valuable asset to their workforce.
- Avoid simply restating what is already on your resume – while you can cover the same skills and strengths, this is where you want to make the direct connection between yourself and how you see yourself helping this company accomplish their goals.
4th paragraph – This is where to thank the employer for their consideration, and indicate that you are looking forward to an interview. Include your contact information, as well as a strong closing statement.
- Example: “I may be contacted via email or telephone to schedule an interview. I look forward to meeting with you soon to discuss how I can apply my skills and strengths to make a strong positive contribution toward [goal achievement] at [Company Name].”
Remember to tailor your cover letter to fit each job and each employer.
Submit your cover letter as a PDF file with the file name YOUR NAME-Cover Letter to make it easy for the employer to save the file and locate the file.
If you are submitting multiple documents, such as a cover letter, resume and references, scan all three documents and combine them into one PDF for submission so the employer only has one document to open, review, save and/or print. The employer will appreciate your efficiency!
Still need help writing your cover letter? Make an appointment with the Career and Student Development Center today!