Cover Letters

More often than not, when you submit your resume for a job, it should be accompanied by a well written cover letter. A cover letter is a one page professionally written letter that introduces you and your resume to a potential employer.  Just like the resume, a cover letter is tailored to the opportunity you are seeking and outlines why you are a qualified candidate for the job/organization.  Done properly, it should capture the interest of the reader and make them anxious to read your resume.

Cover Letter Outline

Your Contact Information (use heading from your resume)

Month ___, 20XX

Name (of person sending the letter to if you have it)
Job Title (of person you are sending the letter to if you have it)
Company Name
City, State ZIP

Dear Mr. (or Ms.) last name:  (or) Dear Prospective Employer:  (if no name is known)

The first section of a cover letter presents who you are and what you want.  Mention the position you are applying for and how you heard about it. Make sure to start your letter with a grabber – a statement that establishes a connection with your reader, a probing question, or a quotable quote.  

The second section is one or two short paragraphs addressing your qualifications and why you are the best candidate for the job.  It details how you can meet the company’s needs by making strong connections between the job posting and your qualifications.   You may incorporate a bullet-point format here.

The final paragraph concludes the cover letter and thanks the employer for their consideration. It also provides the employer with your contact information and how you will follow-up.



Before you start your letter, look closely at the job description and note what the employer is looking for.  Here is a sample job description:

American Cancer Society

Position: Information Representative

Job Description
Handles high volume inbound customer calls to the National Cancer Information Center.  Provides on-line education, resources and assistance to patients, families, volunteers, donors and the general public.  Responds to calls by providing cancer information; processing donations; connecting callers to local ACS offices, events and resources; and handling various other inquiries.  Listens actively to caller’s needs and seeks to resolve caller’s inquiries immediately using on-line databases and other available resources.  Serves all callers with respect, empathy and exceptional customer service.

Job Requirements
Candidates must demonstrate superior communication, problem-solving and technical multi-tasking skills and a deep commitment to continual learning and service throughout screening and extensive training process.  Must be customer-focused, empathetic and able to assist individuals facing challenging circumstances.  Four-year degree and previous work or volunteer experience strongly preferred.  Day, evening, weekend and night shifts available.

As you can see from the job description, it tells you what they are looking for.  Given that information, here is an example of a cover letter written for that job description.

Cover Letter Sample

If a job posting ever requests your salary requirements here is a good way to include it in your cover letter.

Cover Letter Sample with Salary Requirements

Helpful Sites and Resources

Cover Letter Tips

Cover Letter Samples