What is a cover letter?
The cover letter may be the first piece of your application package that the employer sees. It’s a document that supports your resume by demonstrating your writing ability, passion and personality. Other recruiters may disregard the cover letter. Regardless, you need to know how to write an effective cover letter for a complete application package.
This is your opportunity to highlight, elaborate and draw attention to the relevant skills and accomplishments you have to offer.
A cover letter has an introduction paragraph, a few paragraphs that “sell” your skills, and a closing paragraph. Keep your cover letter short, succinct and targeted, following the same format as your resume. Here are some cover letter templates from ALIS to get you started.
You have two styles to choose from – the bullet and paragraph format.
The bullet format allows you to demonstrate key projects or accomplishments relevant to the job you are applying for. Here’s an example of a bullet point cover letter.
The paragraph format presents in sentences why you are the right fit for this position. You can use this cover letter template for a paragraph format cover letter to get you started.
Your introduction paragraph should demonstrate that you’ve done your research about the company and the role. It should also explain why you’re a good fit for the position. You’ll make a great impression if you can explain why you’re interested in working for them in a meaningful way.
Check out these cover letter introduction examples for inspiration.
This section is the largest part of a cover letter and should be two to three paragraphs long.
Use this space to connect critical information from your resume to the requirements outlined in the job posting. Don't repeat the information from your resume; instead, link items from your resume to larger themes that are related to the job posting. For example, a paragraph can be used to describe your experience with project management across multiple roles.
In the closing section of your cover letter, summarize the contents of your letter in a few sentences. This is where you can reinforce why you're a good fit for the position and provide your contact information for the recruiter to reach you.
Tips for an effective cover letter
Do your research
Prove that you’re the right candidate by showing that you have a good understanding of the company, what they do, their work culture and the industry they operate in.
Tailor your content
Write your letter to fit the specific job. Create links between your experience and the job requirements wherever possible. Address the letter to the hiring manager, or try to find that information online if it isn't listed. And if someone has referred you, drop their name.
Keep it professional
Use a professional email address. Remember to add a greeting, closing and signature. Unless otherwise directed, keep your cover letter to one page.
Double-check the job posting carefully for application instructions. Always have someone else proofread your cover letter. Career Services can help — book an appointment on Elevate to have an advisor review your cover letter and resume.