Cover Letters (for Résumés)

Cover letters should complement your résumé and illustrate your interests, the skills you possess, and your communication abilities. Your cover letter speaks volumes about how you will work professionally and could make all the difference in your job search.

Customize each letter to the position and company, to show the following:

  • Your understanding of the job
  • Reasons why you are right for the position/organization
  • Reasons why this job is right for you, your interests, and career goals

Layout 

  • Use a serif, easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman, Cambria, or Palatino.
  • Format all information and paragraphs as flush left and single-spaced.
  • Insert a blank line between paragraphs.

Contact Information

  • Provide your current address at the very top, followed by one blank line.
  • Include the date that you will submit your cover letter, followed by one blank line.
  • Provide the address of the person and company you are writing the cover letter to. If a specific person to contact is provided, give their name and position, followed by the company name and the address on separate lines. If a specific person is not addressed, then just include the company name and its address on separate lines. Follow the address by one blank line.

Salutation and Opening Paragraph

  • Greet the person by their title (Dr., Mr., or Ms.) and their last name, followed by a colon (:). If you don't know who will be reading your cover letter, then address it to "Whom It May Concern" followed by a colon.
  • State the position you are applying for and how you found the position. Mention any referrals.
  • Explain what you understand about the job and what drew you to it.
  • State your biggest or most relevant qualifications, such as your education level or your total years of relevant job experience.
  • End with a thesis-like statement that summarizes the skills/experience you will highlight in the body of your cover letter.

Middle Paragraph(s)

  • Elaborate upon one to two qualifications/experiences from your résumé that are most relevant to the job requirements (refer to and use language from the job description and requirements in the ad). Expand on these experiences in more detail than your résumé allowed.
  • Provide examples that illustrate the general claims of your qualifications.
  • Relate your relevant experiences to your ability to perform the job responsibilities. Indicate what you have to offer them in a neutral, positive tone.
    • Instead of “I am the best writer in my class,” you could say “Because of my award from the Composition program, I believe my writing will be an asset for the team at your magazine’s editorial department."
    • Frame your skill as a “good fit” for the company, not “the best out of a group.”

Closing Paragraph and Signature

  • Summarize what you will bring to the company based on skills you highlighted in your main body paragraphs.
  • Emphasize your enthusiasm, openness for questions, and interest in hearing more.
  • Indicate your interest in meeting to discuss the organization/position.
  • Welcome the employer to contact you for further information and provide your phone number and email address. If applicable to the job/field, state how and when you plan to follow up.
  • Thank the employer for their time and consideration.
  • Use a closing line, such as "Sincerely," followed by a comma. Insert three blank lines to allow room for you to sign.
  • Print your name.
  • Place the word "Enclosed" below your name to refer to your enclosed résumé.

Example (Undergraduate)

The following example is written by an undergraduate who is finishing a bachelor's degree. It pulls heavily from the most important work experiences as as undergraduate and shows how they can be applied to a full-time professional position.

100 Campus Avenue
Oxford, OH 45056
miamim@MiamiOH.edu

January 21, 2016

Dr. MaryAnn Miller
Director, Middletown Writing Center
Middletown College
Columbus, OH 43701

Dear Dr. Miller:

I am applying for the Consultant Coordinator position listed recently in Middletown College's CAREERlink. I have worked in a writing center for the past two years, as both a writing consultant and a student administrator. My experience with writing center consulting and administration would qualify me for this position’s responsibilities and allow me to become a valuable contributor to the Middletown Writing Center (MWC).

At the Howe Center for Writing Excellence (HCWE), I started as a writing consultant and worked with over 300 students from various disciplines and cultural backgrounds. Because of my double-major in English and Chinese, I particularly enjoyed working with international students from China and employed my understanding of their culture and language to further assist them with writing in English. I am passionate about inclusivity and would incorporate these themes into consultant training at MWC. As a consultant, I also attended weekly training workshops and participated in semester-long mentoring groups. As such, I bring not only my consulting experience but also a consultant perspective on training and mentoring. From my time at the HCWE, I can also offer ideas for expanding the training and mentoring process at MWC.

During my last two years, I assumed the role of Student Coordinator and then Student Manager, where each semester, I scheduled over 30 consultants across 5 writing center locations and helped to manage the day-to-day running of the main center. My organizational and managerial skills maintained communication across consultants, writing desk staff, and the writing center Manager. For my accomplishments as Student Manager, I recently won the Regional Tutor Leadership Award for 2016. I am well prepared to transition from a student administrator to a full-time administrator as Consultant Coordinator.

I believe my experiences with writing consulting and with fundamental administrative tasks will enable me to connect with consultants at the Middletown Writing Center and collaborate with administrators on additional areas. I have enclosed my resume for your consideration. I look forward to meeting with you to further discuss my qualifications and the Consultant Coordinator position. Should you need additional information, please contact me at (513) 529-4321 or miamim@MiamiOH.edu. In the meantime, thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Mary Miami

Enclosure

Example (Graduate)

The following example is written by a graduate student who is almost finished with a master's degree. It pulls from both the student's undergraduate and graduate experiences to reinforce several years of experience across the central theme of leadership and administration. However, the cover letter ends with an emphasis on graduate experiences, which will be more recent and more relevant to employers.

100 Campus Avenue
Oxford, OH 45056
miamim@MiamiOH.edu

January 21, 2016

Dr. Pamela Price
Director, Hamilton University Writing Center
Hamilton University
Columbus, OH 43701

Dear Dr. Price:

I am writing to express my interest in the Writing Center Coordinator position listed recently in Hamilton University's CAREERlink. I have worked in writing centers for the past five years, with four years at the administrative level. My experience with writing center training, mentoring, and research would qualify me for this position’s responsibilities and allow me to become a valuable contributor to the Hamilton University Writing Center (HUWC).

As noted in my enclosed resume, I have considerable experience in writing center leadership and administration. At the Howe Center for Writing Excellence (HCWE), I was first employed as a writing consultant and worked with over 300 students from various disciplines and cultural backgrounds. I later assumed an administrative role as Student Manager, where each semester, I scheduled over 30 consultants across 5 writing center locations and helped to manage the day-to-day running of the main center. My organizational and managerial skills maintained communication across consultants, writing desk staff, and the writing center Manager. For my accomplishments as Student Manager, I won the Regional Tutor Leadership Award for 2014. At the Hamilton University Writing Center, I could not only complete basic administrative tasks but also create administrative opportunities and roles for undergraduate and graduate consultants alike.

As Graduate Assistant Director at the HCWE, I further developed relationships with graduate students and assisted in leading boot camps and write-ins for graduate and faculty writing. My role in coordinating these programs could be valuable to the HUWC in expanding upon your graduate student support and developing new initiatives as needed. I have also developed training workshops and led undergraduate research groups, helping consultants to conduct IRB-approved research and present their results at national and international writing center conferences. I would be interested not only in encouraging consultant research at the HUWC but also in conducting my own research to gather assessment data and to represent the Center at yearly conferences.

I believe my background as a consultant and an administrator will contribute to the ongoing success and expansion of the Hamilton University Writing Center. I am currently finishing my graduate degree at Miami University, and my thesis will be defended and submitted by June 16, 2016. I look forward to meeting with you to further discuss my qualifications and the Writing Center Coordinator position. Should you need additional information, please contact me at (513) 529-4321 or miamim2@MiamiOH.edu. In the meantime, thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Michael Miami

Enclosure

More Information

For more information and examples, visit Career Services.