Cover Letters

The cover letter, or letter of application, accompanies your resume when applying for positions to let employers know why you are interested in their opportunity and organization. You should customize each cover letter to match your skills and experience to the position.

General Guidelines

  • Identify the name and title of the person to whom the letter should be addressed.  For online postings, include the name of the contact person and/or title that are listed.  Also keep in mind that a cover letter may NOT be required for ALL online postings, so be sure to adhere to application guidelines.
  • For ads with no contact information, you should still attempt to identify the organization, if possible. Only address the letter to “Dear Hiring Manager ” if you are not able to find the necessary contact information.
  • If the employer asks you to include salary requirements in the letter, always state your requirements in a range and that you are open to negotiation. You should research salary figures for the position and geographic area. If an employer asks you to include salary history, he or she is looking for consistency. Gaps or salary cuts should be explained in general terms.
  • Your letter must be well written, free of errors, and grammatically correct. Do not over use the word "I".
  • The letter should be one page in length and composed of three to four paragraphs. All margins are left justified.  See our recommended cover letter format.
  • Read your letter out loud to ensure that your ideas flow, and to catch any awkward sentences or overuse of words or phrases.
  • As a final check, have your letter reviewed by a career advisor during daily drop-in hours.
  • Print your letter on quality paper, preferably the same paper as your resume.
  • A cover letter is NOT needed when handing your resume directly to an employer.