Resume - Cover Letters

You should always include a cover letter when sending your resume to an individual or an organization. An introduction to your resume, the cover letter allows you to direct the reader's attention to your specific accomplishments or strengths relevant to the job you are seeking. There are essentially two types of cover letters: (1) letter of application for a specific, advertised opening and (2) letter of inquiry expressing interest in an organization but you aren't sure if there are current openings.

Basic Elements of the Cover Letter

  • Your Name, Address, City, State, Zip Code, (Country), Phone Number
  • Date of the Letter
  • Reader's Name, Title, Organization and Address
  • Salutation (Dear ______________ )

    NOTE:Use title and last name. (example: Dear Ms. Smith:, Dear Dr. Smith:, Dear Mr. Smith:. If you do not have a name, use the title (example: Dear Human Resource Manager:). If you have a name but are not sure if the person is a male or female, use the full name with no title (Dear Lynn Smith:). Remember that business letter salutations should use a colon for punctuation (: ).

  • Opening Paragraph

    NOTE: Introduce why you are writing the letter. State the name of the position you seek and mention how you heard of the opening or organization.

  • Middle Paragraph

    NOTE: In this section, describe your major skills or strengths related to the position you seek. Create interest and show how you can be of value to the organization. Do NOT just repeat everything in your resume.

  • Closing Paragraph

    NOTE: Restate your interest in the position. Indicate what action or next steps you will take or state that you look forward to hearing from the individual soon. Don't forget to express appreciation for the reader's time and consideration.

  • The Close (Sincerely, 5 spaces, Your full name )

Cover Letter Guidelines

  1. Business letters are formal communications. Do not be casual in your language or format. See Cover Letter Samples for acceptable style and format.
  2. Be brief. A one-page cover letter should be sufficient.
  3. If possible, address the letter to a specific person rather than using a generic salutation. If you must use a more general salutation, address the individual by title. (Ex.: Dear Human Resource Manager:) Avoid using "To Whom It May Concern".
  4. Keep the reader in mind. Be concise and to the point. Write directly and simply. Do not use jargon and complex, lengthy sentences.
  5. Individualize or personalize the letter. A form letter---or one that looks like it has circulated to many employers---will probably get your resume into the "No" pile.
  6. Your letter should be misspelled words, no typos, no smudged ink.
  7. Fold your letter in the correct business format. Make you insert it into the envelope properly.


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