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Cover Letters

A cover letter is a professional business letter that accompanies your résumé and allows you to address specifics about the job for which you are applying. It is a chance to sell how your unique skills and experiences can benefit the organization. 

Formatting Tips

  • Length: A cover letter is typically 3-4 paragraphs, not exceeding one page.  
  • Format: Use the same heading, font style and size, and type of paper as your résumé.  
  • Salutation: Address your cover letter to a specific person if possible. Call for the name of the hiring manager if not listed; never use “To Whom It May Concern.” If a name is unavailable, use a title (e.g., Dear Human Resources Director).
Body

First paragraph
  • The main purpose of this paragraph is to gain and keep the reader’s attention. 
  • State the reason you are writing the letter – position you are applying for or inquiring about. 
  • Give the source of referral, if any. 
  • Include company information found through research. 
  • End this paragraph with three skills demonstrating why you are the most qualified candidate.  
Middle paragraph(s)
  • The main purpose of this paragraph is to emphasize what you can contribute to the organization. 
  • Give concrete examples of the skills you listed in the first paragraph. 
  • May be one or two paragraphs.  
Final paragraph
  • Reiterate your interest in the position. 
  • State your appreciation of the employer’s consideration. 
  • Include your intentions for follow-up. 
  • Provide your phone number/email and the best way to contact you.  
Closing 
End your cover letter professionally (e.g., Respectfully, Sincerely, Regards, etc.). Leave four spaces then type your name. If mailing in a hard copy, sign your name in the open space. If submitting your material electronically, either include your electronic signature or type “submitted electronically” under your typed name.

To see a sample cover letter, view the Résumé, Cover Letter & Reference Guide (PDF).
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