What is a Cover Letter?


A cover letter is an opportunity to address the employer and discuss in detail the skills and qualifications you hold and why they would make you an asset to the company. A cover letter should always be sent along with your resume – it acts to direct the reader towards your resume while also serving as a way for you to explain what it is about the job that is appealing to you and why YOU are the best candidate for the position. In lieu of a cover letter, you can also send a cover email; it includes similar formatting and information as a cover letter, but is written in the main body of the email with your resume attached to the email. This can be used when companies expect applications to be sent by email and do not specify if a cover letter needs to be attached.

However, always read the instructions provided in the job application: read the instructions of the job posting carefully and make sure to submit an application that follows their guidelines; if they specifically ask for a cover letter, make sure to include a cover letter!


What Does a Cover Letter Include?

A typical cover letter will include:

1. Header

Including your name, city of location, and any contact information


2. Greeting to the hiring manager

Open the cover letter with a polite greeting, such as: “Dear Mr./Mrs. _________” (fill in the blank with their name).


3. Opening paragraph

Use this space as an opportunity to introduce yourself and list some of your top achievements, particularly those that can relate to the position you are applying for. Direct the reader to your resume, where they are also able to see the skills and qualifications that make you the best candidate.


4. Second paragraph

In this paragraph, explain why you would make the perfect candidate for the job. What about our personality and accomplishments sets you apart from other candidates?


5. Third paragraph

In this paragraph, explain why you would make a good match for the company.


6. Formal closing

In the closing, thank the reader for taking the time to read your cover letter and request for an interview. It can also be helpful to include the best way for the reader to contact you (i.e., phone or email) and what time is best for them to contact you.


Other Resources:

Here is a site with some great advice on how to write your cover letter: How to Write a Cover Letter

Writing Effective Resumes and Cover Letters Workshop

If you’re interested in learning more about how to write a cover letter, check out our Writing Effective Resumes and Cover Letters Workshop!