Whether you send your resume in response to an advertisement, as an unsolicited inquiry, or upon the referral of another person, a cover letter
must accompany it. The cover letter is used as a business transmittal letter, a letter of professional introduction and an opportunity to generate employer interest in you. As it is the first contact you have with a potential employer, its effectiveness and appearance are crucially important. It is your chance to introduce yourself and it is more individualized and personal than your resume. In a sense, the cover letter is a kind of conversation with the employer in which you have the first word. You may use this opportunity to impress the employer with your writing skills, you qualifications and your enthusiasm, while at the same time exhibiting your sincerity, personality and style – important elements in the hiring decision. The purpose of a cover letter is to get the employer to read your resume.
Your cover letter will send the desired message to employers if:
You take the time to write a thoughtful and focused letter
You are concise and to the point but say enough to capture the reader’s interest
You sell yourself by indicating precisely how the employer can benefit from hiring you by:
- expressing your qualifications and accomplishments
- giving examples of experiences which support your claims
- demonstrating knowledge of the organization
The letter should:
Be approximately three or four paragraphs long. Keep it short enough to sustain the interest of the reader.
Be addressed to a specific person and use their correct title. Refrain from using Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom It May Concern
Compel the employer to read beyond the first paragraph
Be laser-printed on quality paper. Your cover letter and the envelope should match your resume paper.
The most common types of cover letters are listed below. Samples are included.
Letter of application is written when you are aware that an opening does exist and addresses your specific attributes that qualify you.
Letter of inquiry is written when you are unaware of any specific vacancies but want to establish your interest in opportunities which may become available.
Networking letter is written to gain information about your intended career.
Thank you letter is a letter of appreciation that establishes good will between you and the interviewer. It may also strengthen you candidacy by showing your continued interest in the position.
Letter of acceptance formalizes the agreement and expresses your professionalism. Indicate your acceptance of the offer of employment, restate position classification, compensation offered and the start date if discussed.
Letter of refusal is written to briefly decline the offer but to express your appreciation for the job offer and for the employer’s interest in you.
Sample Letters (pdf)
How to Express Your Experiences and Accomplishments
Write down briefly what you did, what your responsibilities were, and how you completed the work. Then indicate what happened as a result of your efforts in terms of:
- How your accomplishments affected your student organization, summer job, etc.
- Dollars saved, new business generated, increased sales or profits
- Improved efficiency, time saved, better procedures
- Numerical and/or percentage measurement
- Any problems or challenges that you took the initiative in addressing
- Something you developed
- A new program, procedure or plan you created or designed
- Any original reports, brochures or other publications you authored
- Any administrative or procedural recommendations you implemented, directly or indirectly
- Any major decisions or organizational changes you actively participated in
- Any award(s) or certificate(s) or commendation(s) you received
- A new process you implemented