Cover Letters

A cover letter is an opportunity to explain how your experience, education, skills, and accomplishments uniquely connect to the position you are applying for. Your letter should communicate your personal narrative, why you will be a great fit for the position, and the contributions you can make to the organization.

The Basics

All cover letters should be:

  • Highly targeted to the position for which you are applying.
  • Written as a professional business letter.
  • Formatted to match your resume, using a font size that is easy to read and plenty of white space.
  • Maximum one page in length (academic cover letters are often longer).
  • Thoroughly proofread to check for errors in names, contact information, spelling and grammar.

Things To Avoid

Common mistakes in cover writing include:

  • Rehashing or simply summarizing your resume.
  • Over explaining or giving an excessive amount of detail that does not add to the impact of your examples.
  • Sharing irrelevant or extremely personal information.
  • Summarizing the company or organization’s mission statement without connecting it to you.
  • Using slang, abbreviations, or an overly casual tone.

Targeting Your Cover Letter

Your cover letter should have 2 to 3 body paragraphs which give examples of how you will benefit the organization and how your experience and attributes align with the position’s requirements.

  • For each paragraph, choose one requirement listed in the posting and use specific examples from your school and work experience to demonstrate how you possess these skills. Give enough detail that the employer gets a sense of what you have to offer.
    • “I have strong interpersonal and communication skills”
      vs.
    • “I developed strong interpersonal and communication skills by participating in case competitions. In a limited time frame, I worked with a partner to analyze problems facing an organization, then we discussed our individual strategies and collaborated on a shared recommendation. Together, we presented our solution to the judge with the use of visual aids and a PowerPoint presentation.”
  • Quantify your experience
    • e.g. number of team members you worked with, percentage of sales increase, how many people did you supervise, etc.
  • Use words and phrases from the posting when describing your skill set and experience