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Cover Letters & Professional Letters

The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself when you can't do it in person and emphasize points on your résumé that are specific to the job you are applying for. You can have your cover letter reviewed at the career networking center.

The following bullets give a general outline for what may be included in a cover letter:

Opening Paragraph

  • State why your are writing. Specify the name of the position that you are seeking.
  • Mention how you heard of the opening - use mutually known names.

Body Paragraph(s)

  • Explain why you are interested in the job. Specify how your education and work experience would benefit them. If it is an internship, briefly describe how the job would benefit you.

Closing Paragraph

  • Reiterate why you want the job.
  • Facilitate the opportunity for an interview.
  • Thank them.

Cover Letter Tips that Get Results

  • Write your letter to the specific person that you think will hire you
    Know their name and title. You can find the name of the person by calling the company directly or visiting their website.
  • Do your research
    The more "generic" your cover letter, the less successful it is likely to be. Company web sites, annual reports, and newspapers can give you the necessary information.
  • Be specific about the job you are seeking
    State clearly the job you are applying for and how you found it. This is a good time to mention any referring contacts. 
  • Quantify your accomplishments
    List four or five specific accomplishments. Numbers are effective and help you stand out as a prospective candidate. Rather than bulleting "Worked with sales team to increase sales effectiveness", say "Responsible for increasing team sales by 37% in two years."
  • Mention only relevant accomplishments

  • Keep it brief, concise and simple
    Your cover letter should be short and to the point. Rarely should it be longer than one page. 
  • Make it easy on the eyes
    Be sure your formatting is uniform and easy to read.
  • Follow Through
    Depending on company culture you may close your letter suggesting that you will contact them. People are busy, and even though they intend on contacting you, it may be up to you to continue the communication.  

Sample Cover Letters

To learn about how to tailor your résumé to your audience, read the Tailoring Your Cover Letter and Résumé PDF document.

Follow-Up Letters

In addition to cover letters, it is sometimes necessary to write a follow-up (or thank you) letter. This usually follows an interview and is a good way to show additional interest in the job or internship. It also sets you apart from the crowd by reminding them of your interview once all the others are done. Here are some tips for writing follow-up letters:

  • Thank the interviewer.
  • Refer to something in the interview that will remind them who you are.
  • Mention any points that you were not able to bring up during the interview.
  • Reiterate your eagerness to hear from them concerning their hiring decision.
  • Letters should be sent immediately after the interview to ensure that it arrives before a decision has been made.
  • Follow up with a thank you note even if you receive a rejection.