A cover letter is a 1-page document that introduces you and your top 2-3 skills or qualifications to the employer for the specific job you are applying to. In each letter you will directly connect your past experience and transferable skills to the position with concrete, specific examples that are a more narrative description of your key experiences or skills, than on your resume.
Employers who read cover letters consider them a helpful part of the application. A well-written, targeted letter will strengthen your application, as a generic or sloppy letter will weaken it.
Cover Letter Outline
A cover letter typically follows this format. For detailed information about content and structure, check out our Cover Letter Handout and Sample (PDF).
Use the same header from your resume for your cover letter
Full name of the person you researched or title of the person reading your letter
Organization location (optional)
Dear first name and last name (unless you know the company is more casual than just first name)
Hook the hiring manager with your best information and how it fits the position with the company.
Explain how your key skills or qualifications fit the position and/or organization specifically.
Write a brief statement of key traits or qualifications (no more than 3) that make you ideal for the position.
As a graphic design major having just completed a marketing internship this summer, I was excited to see the Communications Assistant position at ABC Corporation in the Marketing Department.
After speaking with Juana Garcia, a Business Analyst at M Health Fairview, I was excited to learn about the Patient Coordinator position currently open in your Itasca location.
Body- Second/Third Paragraph(s)
Highlight the two or three skills that make you an ideal candidate for this position’s required qualifications and include a specific example of how you have developed each skill through past work, class or volunteer experiences.
Summarize why you will be an asset to their organization, if/how you will follow up, and include your contact information.
Salutation & Signature
Finish with a common sign-off (such as Sincerely, Best, Regards, Thank you) and add a real signature (save your signature as an image and insert it in the cover letter) and type your full name below the signature. Example:
For more cover letter advice check out How to Write a Cover Letter: The All-Time Best Tips from the Muse or Cover Letter Advice & Guidelines from ResumeGenius.