Cover Letters

Cover letters may be required for job applications alongside your resume. A cover letter should be prepared just as carefully as your resume because it contributes to the first impression you will make on an employer. The guidelines found on this page will help you put together your own individualized cover letter. 


  • Summarize why you are a good fit for the job/company
  • Complements and builds off of your resume
  • Opportunity to showcase written communication skills

When to Use/Not Use

You should use a cover letter when:

1. If it’s required in a job application, invest time to customize and proofread

2. If it’s optional in a job application, only submit if you have the time to customize and proofread

Don’t use a cover letter when:

1. Attending career fairs

2. Attending networking events

3. Attending conferences

4. A recruiter asked for your resume and you don’t have a specific job


  • Header – Use the same header (your name & contact information) for your resume, cover letter, and references page. After including your name/contact information, include the date, the employer’s name and city/state location.
  • Greeting – address your cover letter to a specific contact person/person hiring if possible, or if that information is not available, to “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Hiring Committee.”
  • Length – Limit your letter to one, single-spaced page with three to five paragraphs. Use the same font and font size as your resume with equal margins.

See examples of format and length in our sample cover letters below.

Writing Tips

  • Vary your sentence structure; avoid starting every sentence with “I.”
  • Pick out 2-3 requirements or skills you see in the job descipription. Write about
    your educational and work experiences that speak directly those skills instead of repeating all that’s on your resume.
  • Use strong and clear writing that’s persuasive rather than trying to get too creative.
  • Proofread! Make sure to read your cover letter for errors. Consider using the free version of Grammarly or a friend/family member to assist.

See examples of format and length in our sample cover letters below.

First Paragraph

 First paragraph: 

  • Introduce yourself and say why you are writing.
  • Mention why you are interested in this position and/or why this organization/company.
  • If someone has referred you, (a current employee, friend, family member) include their


Please accept this letter and resume as an application for the Manager Trainee position with Bayou BoatMakers Company, as advertised on your website. With an educational background in management, and work experience in various aspects of business operations and customer service, I believe my qualifications are an excellent fit with the requirements for this position. 

Middle Paragraphs

Paragraphs 2, 3, and/or 4: 

  • Describe your qualifications for the type of position you’re seeking using specific examples.
  • Connect your accomplishments, skills, and knowledge directly to the type of position, organization and/or field.
  • Avoid repeating facts outlined on your resume by focusing on key concepts.
  • Mention specific interests you have in the job/company.


Working with clients from various backgrounds and needs I have learned the importance of effective communication. In my roles as a peer advisor and camp counselor, I assess clients’ needs and determine the appropriate resources. As an actor/dancer, I have effectively worked as part of a team, adapting to different work styles and skill sets, to create a clear message for the audience. I hope to bring these successful communication skills to ABC Finance.


I am also drawn to this position because of my experience working with the non-profit, Dance Marathon, which raises funds and awareness for pediatric hospital rehabilitation programs. As Community Outreach Director for the past two years, I have gained experience in aspects of running a non-profit including grant writing, fundraising, and event planning. My team and I planned over 15 large and small events across the state raising awareness of our cause. Attention to detail was vital as we offered creative activities that appealed to children and adults, solicited sponsors for funding and stayed within budget all the while keeping our mission at the center.

Last Paragraph

  • Summarize or give your final statement of interest or qualifications.
  • Thank the employer for their time and consideration.
  • Make a plan to follow up with the employer with a phone call or email.


My past experiences with the arts and with the non-profit field have prepared me to contribute in the Development Assistant position. I am dedicated to the mission of the organization and excited at the possibility of working in Chicago. I would love the opportunity to discuss my experiences and skills with you and look forward to hearing from you. I can be reached at [email protected] or 555-555-5555.


Tips & Sample Cover Letters

Review some cover letter examples to see the information above in action.

To make a strong resume that’s tailored to the job, consider using this worksheet to get started.

Remember! Once one cover letter is written, it can serve as a basic framework and then be tailored to other positions.