Cover Letter Basics

Many positions today ask for a cover letter to accompany the resume when applying for a job. The cover letter introduces why you are writing, highlights how your skills or experiences match up to the position, and asks for an opportunity to meet in person. Since this is the first written communication the employer will receive from you, you will want to take great care in making sure it is articulate, professional, and flows well. Effective communication skills are highly sought after and are oftentimes considered an essential skill in the workplace.

Similar to our resume services, the Student and Community Engagement Office will be happy to help you construct a cover letter or critique an existing one.

Cover Letter Tips


Creating Your Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter can seem like a daunting task. Employers like to read cover letters because it gives them a sense of the candidate's personality and ability to communicate. Treat the cover letter like a thesis paper, where you explain the reason why you should be interviewed and then support those reasons through facts, evidence, and accomplishments. Read below to learn how to structure your cover letter.

First Paragraph

This paragraph should state the job you are applying for, how you heard about the job (internet, friend, etc.), and why the employer should select you for an interview. Consider the 1-3 skills that you possess that meet the requirements of the job you are applying for and briefly mention these as the reasons why you should be interviewed (you will go into further detail about the skills in the body paragraphs). You can also flatter the employer by using information about the company that you find on the internet. The point of this paragraph is to grab the employer’s attention and make them want to interview you. Not sure what to write about? Reflect on these questions to assist you.


Body Paragraph(s)

In this section, you will strengthen what you stated in the first paragraph by providing specific examples, accomplishments, and/or evidence of skills. You will want to weave a story of your experiences that clearly demonstrate how you can do the job for which you are applying. This is an opportunity to go more in depth about a particular experience or skill that you might not be able to explain as well in your resume or the example would be more impactful with greater description. Remember, the employer wants to know how your skills can benefit them! Make sure it flows and each paragraph has its own theme. Each paragraph should be about 3-5 sentences in length. Make sure you are not just summarizing your resume.


Closing Paragraph

Re-emphasize why you are the best candidate for the job. Thank them for their time and ask for an opportunity to discuss with them further how you can be an asset to their company.

This cover letter example will give some ideas on how to get started.