College of Engineering / Career Development and Corporate Relations / Cover Letters


Cover Letters

A cover letter introduces you to a potential employer. It is an opportunity to provide specific explanation for your interest in applying and demonstrate your unique fit for the role.

Use the position description to make explicit connections between your skills and experience and what the organization is looking for in a candidate. The cover letter should be concise and well-written. If a potential employer reads your cover letter and is intrigued, they will then read your resume. Use the cover letter to enhance your resume, not repeat it. Together the cover letter and resume can help you land an interview.

STRUCTURE

Heading

Your name
Local address
Phone number
Email address

[space]

Date: Month/Day/Year

[space]

Name of specific person, Title
Address of company

[space]

Greeting: This should be formal and include a colon, not comma, at the end.

First Paragraph: A basic introduction of 2 - 3 sentences. Outline the position, where you found it, and why you are interested in working for that specific organization. Also, briefly introduce your background and experience.

The Body: This section can be 1 - 2 paragraphs. Expand on specific experiences or involvement that is relevant to the position. The position description can provide excellent guidance for this section. If the potential employer is asking for someone with excellent leadership and teamwork experience, expanding on your previous experience working as part of a team to solve a problem and identify a solution will directly connect your experience and background to the skill set the employer seeks.

The Closing: Keep this paragraph brief with 2 - 3 sentences outlining a specific action for next steps (i.e. you may reach me using the contact information listed above). Reiterate your interest and contact information. Always thank the reader for their time and consideration.

Closing Signature: As with any job-related correspondence, you should opt for formal language and tone. For example:

  • Best regards
  • Kind regards
  • Regards
  • Respectfully
  • Sincerely

TIPS

  • Always include a cover letter unless instructed otherwise.
  • Your resume and cover letter should have the same heading.
  • Address your letter to a specific person. If needed, contact the company and ask to whom the letter should be addressed.
  • Don't make it all about you! Think about your cover letter from the lens of what the company needs and how you can help to accomplish their goals.
  • Use confident language. Avoid phrases such as "I think, I feel, or I believe" when describing your qualifications and fit for the company. Strong language such as "I am confident" or "I am certain" conveys a more assertive message.

RESOURCES

University Career Center Job Search Guide