Cover Letter Guidelines
The cover letter is your chance to tell the employer
how wonderful you are. Your letter is your first contact
with a potential employer. If it looks attractive, is
well written, and contains the right information, you
will be sure to make a good impression.
The cover letter provides an opportunity for you to
personalize your job application. Your
résumé will be more generic and will state
your qualifications for the job. The cover letter is
your chance to explicitly tie these qualifications to
the specific duties and responsibilities of the
particular job for which you are applying. If you are
vague or rambling, the employer won’t take the
time to move on to your résumé.
Most cover letters will use a common
format. The key is to make sure you personalize
the information you stick into the format.
The following guidelines apply to all your letters.
Address the letter to someone in authority.
Use the person’s name and title. Double check for
the correct spelling of the name. When this information
is unavailable, the salutation should be “Dear
Sir:” or ̶o;Dear Madam:”.
Link yourself to the employer by naming your
referral if possible (e.g., “John Doe, your
personnel manager, suggested I write you”). If
responding to an ad or a job posting, refer to that.
Type or computer-print the letter on good quality
8.5 x 11-inch paper. Keep the letter to one
page in length and follow a standard business
Keep the letter interesting without being too
aggressive or humble:
- demonstrate that you’ve done some homework on
- convey your enthusiasm and commitment.
- balance professionalism with personal warmth and
Keep the letter organized:
- outline specifically what you are asking and offering
(don’t mention salary unless asked to do so).
- ensure the potential employer knows what action to
take — i.e., does he/she call you, or will you
call him/her and when?
Proofread your letter before sending it.
Spellcheck alone cannot do the job! If you know you are
a poor speller, have a capable friend review it.
Type the address on an 9.5 x 4-inch
envelope. Include a copy of your résumé.
Be sure to put your return address on the top left corner
of the envelope, and that you have sufficient postage if
you are mailing the application.
Mail or deliver the hand-signed original.
Keep a copy for your files.
Ensure you provide sufficient time for your
application to arrive prior to the competition deadline.
Don’t depend on someone else to mail or deliver the
letter for you.
Here are some more sources of information, many from the
My Future site: