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Career & Professional Development Center
College of Natural Sciences
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Cover Letter Guide
Multiple forms of correspondence are important during your job search. While your resume is your primary marketing
tool, other documents serve as key supporting materials and create an overall picture of who you are.
Whether in traditional letter form or transmitted via email, all correspondence should be professional in language and
tone and use traditional business letter formatting. Use the same style font as on your resume and be sure the font is
large enough to be easily read - between 10-12 pt.
Correspondence for job seekers can include cover letters for internships or full-time positions, email outreach, and
"prospecting" or letters of inquiry. Letters and emails should be individually written and tailored to the specific
Whenever contacting a prospective employer via email, communicate with the same care as you would in a formal
business setting or other professional document. An email message to a prospective employer is not casual and should
never simply indicate "see attached resume." You want to be brief, but not stale. Format an email with appropriate
salutations, proper spelling and grammar and a professional signature line.
In the subject line, make the reason for your email clear and succinct: "Application for Analyst Internship." Pay
attention to whether or not they ask you to put specific phrases, job reference numbers or names in your subject
line. If you are networking, put your shared contact name in the subject line, to catch the reader's attention. For
example: Professor Deborah Henson suggested I contact you
Proofread! Spellcheck won't catch words spelled correctly but misused (ex. "their" instead of "there"). Review
your emails carefully for tone and grammar before sending them
Don't use emoticons or other common email or text messaging expressions. Avoid all caps, which can be
interpreted as "yelling", or all lowercase letters, which is overly casual
Your email address should also convey a professional tone: "firstname.lastname@example.org" will not impress
Include your first and last name in the name of files that you attach to an email (ex. JosephJonesResume.doc).
Many employers save all attached documents to an applicant folder; you want them to be able to locate your
documents easily. Do not call your cover letter, CoverLetter.doc.
The cover letter introduces you and your resume and is a vital part of the application process. It should be no longer than
one page - a letter that is longer runs the risk of not being read, and should be sent only if requested.
A well-developed cover letter can get your resume read; conversely, a poorly written or missing cover letter may hinder
your consideration for a position. It is important to write in a way that communicates genuine enthusiasm and interest
for the position and the employer. Each letter should be personalized for the organization, individual, and position,
including keywords from the job posting, and should not just repeat what is already in your resume. Do not use a
template that has not been properly tailored to the specific job. Your cover letter should reflect the requirements and
skills the company is seeking in the job description.
The proper form of a cover letter (see template on following page) includes your contact information at the top, followed
by the date, followed by the company/employer information. Whenever possible, avoid using "Dear Sir/Madam" or "To
Whom It May Concern" as salutations. A cover letter should be addressed to an individual by name or a department
when applicable, or at the very least, address your letter "Dear Hiring Manager". You may want to visit the company's
website to see if you can find the specific contact name. It is also acceptable to call the organization's front desk to
inquire to whom you should direct your letter or the name of the position supervisor. Going this extra step is a good way
of demonstrating your interest in the position. A cover letter is typically three to four paragraphs, including:
This is where you introduce yourself and specify the position for which you are applying. Indicate how you found the
position: for example, through an online job posting, CareerConnect, market research, or a referral by a current
employee. Explain what about the organization and position appeals to you. This is where you highlight that you've done
your research by mentioning one of the employer's recent accomplishments, projects, or tenets of their mission
statement. Finally, complete the paragraph by stating, in one sentence, why you would be a strong candidate for the
position. This shouldn't be a long paragraph; 4-5 sentences will suffice.
This is where you summarize your qualifications in relation to the position for which you are applying. You want to
demonstrate what you have to offer the employer (not what you hope to gain from them). Tie your skillset and
experience to two or three themes or qualifications that the employer has stated it is looking for in an applicant.
Emphasize your abilities; do not simply restate points from your resume. Use this opportunity to explain more about your
skills. Expand on where you developed them, how you have used them to accomplish a notable result, why you are adept
at utilizing them. Weave together your academic background, activities, and work experience to provide the reader with
a more robust picture of what you can bring to the organization. This should be the longest and/or most in-depth
paragraph(s) of your letter.
This is where you restate your interest in the organization and summarize, in a sentence or two, what you have to offer.
Provide your contact information again and indicate any next steps you plan to pursue. For example, you may indicate
plans to follow up with a phone call at a certain time or a day, or request a meeting to discuss the position in detail.
Finally, be sure to thank the reader for his/her time and consideration.
Keep copies of all the application materials you send out. If you hear nothing after a couple of weeks, you can follow up
with the employer to inquire if any further information is needed and to reiterate your interest.
Keep in mind, there is more than one right way to write a cover letter. Solicit feedback from as many people as possible
to gain a clearer sense of how to approach yours.
Prospecting Letter/Letter of Inquiry
A prospecting letter can be an effective way to explore possibilities and gain information about an organization, or even
to uncover hidden job opportunities. A prospecting letter should outline your strongest qualifications. Within the letter
be sure to indicate your source of information and do some personal marketing. You can request an informational
interview and should express appreciation for the reader's consideration. A prospecting letter should include the
Indicate your interest and reveal the source of the information you have about the employer
Outline your strongest qualifications. Focus on broader occupational dimensions to describe how your
qualifications, experience and motivation match the work environment, demonstrating how you could be an
Your suggested action plan. Request an interview and indicate that you will call during a specific time period to
discuss interview possibilities, and express appreciation for the reader's consideration
What is a good example of a cover letter?Three excellent cover letter examplesStandard, conservative style This is ideal for sectors such as business, law, accountancy and retail. ...Standard speculative letter This may vary according to the nature of the organisation and the industry youâ€™re applying to. ...Letter for creative jobs
Author: Patricia Harper
Creator: Microsoft® Word 2016
Producer: Microsoft® Word 2016
CreationDate: Tue Jan 9 12:25:24 2018
ModDate: Tue Jan 9 12:25:24 2018
Page size: 612 x 792 pts (letter) (rotated 0 degrees)
File size: 987270 bytes
PDF version: 1.5