Cover Letter Writing

While applying to jobs, internships, or other opportunities, you may be asked to submit a cover letter or letter of intent. A cover letter allows you to introduce yourself, conveys your interest in and fit with a position and organization, highlights your related skills and qualifications, and demonstrates your written communication skills.

Similar to your resume, your cover letter needs to be tailored to each position and organization that you are applying to. Read the job description carefully, and use it to identify keywords, skills, and requirements. When tailoring your cover letter, highlight your related qualifications using keywords and verbiage from the job description and your research.

A cover letter has three main sections: the opening paragraph, the middle section, and the final paragraph. Each section serves a specific purpose.

Your cover letter is just one piece of your application materials so it is important that the appearance matches that of your other documents. The contact information, font type(s), font size(s), and margins used in your letter should be consistent with that of your other application materials. Also, use block-style formatting meaning that all paragraphs are left-aligned, with no indentations, and ensure that your letter does not exceed one page in length.

If the job posting mentions who applications can be addressed to, include that individual’s name here. If the job posting does not include this information, consider calling the company to let them know that you are interested in the position, and ask if there is a specific person you should address your application materials to. Some companies will provide this information, and some will not.

If you do not have a specific person to address your materials to, utilize the company name and the words hiring manager (e.g. Dear Website World, Inc. Hiring Manager:). Use a colon instead of a comma at the end of your greeting.

Cover Letter Date

In your opening paragraph, state the position to which you are applying, and your interest in the organization and the position. If you are applying to a position because of a connection you have made, this is your opportunity to mention that connection. However, always ask permission to include their name, and ensure that your connection is a reliable employee of the company or organization.

In the middle section of your cover letter, emphasize what you can do for the company. What are your qualifications? Why are you the right person for this position? Connect your skills and experiences to the job description. There are a variety of ways to write this section of your cover letter. Some letters may have more than one paragraph in the middle section, and others may use bullet points to make it easier to read. View the examples on the right-hand side of this webpage to determine which type of formatting fits your needs.

In your final paragraph, restate your interest in the position, thank the employer for their time and consideration, and mention your desire for an interview. Include a salutation and leave three blank lines before typing your full name. The blank space can be used for you to sign your cover letter if you will be submitting it in-person. If you will be submitting it electronically, leave it blank, there is no need to sign. 


Saving Your Document

Hiring Managers receive hundreds of applications and it can be difficult to keep track of 10 cover letters that are all titled “Cover Letter.” Use a consistent titling format including your name and the type of document (e.g. resume, cover letter, references, etc.) when saving each document. This makes reviewing documents easier for the hiring manager as well as demonstrates your professionalism and attention to detail.

Nancy Drew_Cover Letter

Submitting Your Application via Email

If you are asked to submit your application via email instead of through an online application process, include a short note via e-mail including the name of the position to which you are applying and stating that the requested application materials are attached. Use professional email etiquette by including a greeting and salutation.


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