The Cover Letter

Cover Letters | Writing Samples | Transcripts

While a resume is a summary of your qualifications, the cover letter gives you the opportunity to draw an employer's attention to the skills and experience outlined in your resume, expand upon information which particularly matches you to the position for which you wish to be considered, and highlight special achievements which might otherwise be overlooked. Simply put, the cover letter is your sales pitch to an employer. A well-written cover letter can make a significant difference in successfully arranging an interview or meeting with a potential employer. The key is to approach the letter as though you were reading it as an employer. A strong cover letter is one that can relate your experiences to the skills listed in the job description -- what differentiates you from other candidates? What you decide to include will depend on the position you apply for, your qualifications, and your own preferences. Be yourself and let the employer know why you want the job and why they should want you.

Each cover letter you send needs to be individualized for each employer. It may take more time, but it's worth it. If you send a poor cover letter, you've wasted your time and the employer's time.

The Structure: The cover letter consists of an introductory paragraph, a middle paragraph for reflecting your unique strengths matched to the employer's needs, and a concluding paragraph stating your planned course of action. Usually a cover letter is one page. Make certain to keep a copy for yourself.

Cover Letter Types:

  • The Invited Cover Letter is written in response to a published opening.
  • The Inquiry Cover Letter is written to an organization you are interested in working for, but they have not advertised an open position.
  • The Referral Letter springs from networking efforts. The referral letter allows you to make a common connection to a mutual acquaintance.

Proofread: Ask someone else to check your grammar, spelling and style. When proofreading your own writing, it is easy to overlook silly mistakes -- the point is to have it read by someone else!!!

Download our guide, Cover Letter Basics for a discussion of the parts of a cover letter and a collection of cover letter examples.