Cover Letter Guidelines

The cover letter is a letter of introduction that should grab the employer’s attention and point out why you, above all other applicants, are a great fit for the position (and/or organization) and should be contacted for a interview. A cover letter should always accompany a resume and, therefore, should highlight your strengths (as appropriate for the position), and not repeat what is already on your resume.  You want to use this letter as an opportunity to give specific examples to back up the strengths you wish to highlight and be clear about the aspects of the position (and/or organization) that interest you.                                                                                                                          

A good cover letter should:
Demonstrate your writing and professional communication skills.
Show that you have done your research about the field and the employer.
Summarize your skills and training relevant to the job.
Communicate enthusiasm for the position and the employer.

Things to keep in mind:

Always send a resume with a cover letter.                                                                                               
Writing a cover letter often shows a level of interest that is appreciated by an employer. A resume alone might be ignored as there is nothing to distinguish it from other resumes.

Address each letter to the recipient by name.                                                                                                             
If you do not know the name of a contact, call the organization and find out who is the manager or director of your department of interest.

Keep your letter to one page.                                                                                                                      
Letters much longer will lose the reader's attention. Employers read through many cover letters and resumes and want to be attracted by a letter that is succinct, catchy and says something unique about the person.

Research the employer.                                                                                                                           
Your letter should reflect that you know something about the organization and the type of industry in general. Each letter should be unique to that organization. Do not use a letter that looks like it could have been sent to anyone.

Count the "I's" in your letter.                                                                                                                  
Be careful not to begin too many of your sentences with "I." Change sentences so that the word "I" is eliminated. For example, "I have had experience in..." could be changed to "My experience includes...”

Start your letter with a strong sentence.                                                                                                        
Inspire the reader to read on by communicating something unique to that person or organization.

Use the body of the letter to highlight brief facts which arouse the reader's curiosity.                            
Hopefully it will interest the reader to look closely at your resume and ask you for an interview.

Conclude the letter by directly asking for an opportunity to meet and/or talk with the employer.               
Try to call a day or two after your letter arrives. It is important to always follow up!

Proofread!                                                                                                                                                                             Make sure there are no typos, misspellings, grammatical or factual errors. Employers are always looking for reasons to weed people out of a large pile of resumes and cover letters.