Writing a Strong Cover Letter

Your cover letter introduces you to a prospective employer. It may be an email or in hard copy. Either way it creates your first impression and demonstrates your communication skill. While a cover letter may not always be required, it is a great way to explain to an employer why you are a good fit for the position.

Cover Letter Content

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.

Cover letter strategies

  • 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.

Cover letter example

Cover letter rubric