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What is a Cover Letter?

Cover Letter Graphic

A cover letter is a professional business letter that provides a potential employer with important information about you and your background. The objective is to demonstrate why you are a perfect match for the position you are applying for and why the employer should interview you.

A cover letter emphasizes your skills and abilities and provides an opportunity for you to highlight one or two of your professional accomplishments. The cover letter is meant to be concise and not restate information presented in your resume. Your cover letter must always be an "original" letter and never be a form letter. When sending a resume to an employer, always include a cover letter.

Cover Letter Planning Guide

Your Cover Letter Needs To Be

  • Typed (use the same font as your resume)
  • Addressed to a specific person (call for a specific contact name/person)
  • Written on the same paper that matches your resume and envelope
  • Original (avoid mailing the same exact letter to multiple employers)
  • Positive, professional, confident and enthusiastic sounding
  • Error free (have someone proofread it)
  • Brief and to the point

Cover Letter Tips

  • Limit your cover letter to 3-4 brief paragraphs, aim for a total length of one-half to three-quarters of a page (should not exceed one page).
  • Be specific when describing abilities, skills, honors, activities and experience, use examples when necessary.
  • Fill in the "blanks" your resume leaves out, your cover letter provides the employer with additional information with who you are and what you've done.
  • Avoid using slang terms, jargon or exaggerating when writing your cover letter.
  • A cover letter should indicate that you have a clear understanding of your career goals and job objectives (put some thought and research into this process).
  • Margin your cover letter to the left, no indentations.
  • Single-space your paragraphs and double space between paragraphs.
  • Leave three or four blank spaces in which to sign your name.
  • Sign your cover letter using blue ink, this implies that the letter is original.
  • Avoid using the pronoun "I" when beginning every sentence.
  • Tailor a new cover letter for each employer, revise paragraphs for every letter.
  • Make sure your envelope matches the same professional look of your cover letter and resume, avoid handwriting your envelope.
  • Print out a clean, fresh, copy to send (avoid white out and erasing).Make a copy of the cover letter you send for your files.