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Anatomy of a Cover Letter

Structure Of Correspondence

Job-search correspondence typically includes the following components:

  • Writer’s return address
  • Date
  • Employer’s name and address (inside address)
  • Salutation
  • Body (usually 3–4 paragraphs)
  • Complimentary closing
  • Writer’s name and signature
  • Enclosure notation (when enclosing your resume or other information)
  • Use ‘attached’ when sending via email

Similar to preparing your resume, there are several formatting guidelines to consider when preparing job-search correspondence:

  • Save your cover letter to a PDF to avoid formatting issues.
  • Use standard 8 1/2 x 11-inch paper.
  • Use good quality stationery, preferably the same as your resume.
  • Be sure to print and proofread to correct all spelling and grammatical mistakes. Letters must be error-free. Do not rely on software spell checks.
  • Make it easy to read by using a plain font in 10- to 12-point type.
  • Focus on information that is relevant to the employer and the job.
  • Quantify your results, if possible, by stating how much and/or how many.
  • Include keywords taken directly from the job description.
  • If sending your cover letter and resume via mail, always type the return address and mailing address on a legal-sized or flat envelope.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Introduction of the Cover Letter

  • Formally introduce yourself by briefly giving an overview of your credentials; it is not necessary to state your name in the introduction
  • Explain why you want to work for that organization— highlight something unique
  • Mention the specific position and how you heard about it
  • Include any personal connections you have


Dear Ms. Grams:

As a senior marketing major from Miami University, the idea of working for an organization that tailors marketing to customers’ needs is incredibly exciting. With a passion for consumer behavior, I write to apply for the Marketing Intern position at Western Marketing, Inc., as posted on Miami University’s Handshake. As a top marketing firm using strategic outreach, Western Marketing has maintained an innovative and fresh approach. As an intern I would bring an energetic and imaginative view to marketing, along with my willingness to learn.


  • If a contact person is not listed on the job description, call HR and ask to whom you can address your cover letter. Do not contact HR if there is language in the job description informing you NOT to contact the organization.
  • If you do not obtain a specific name, do not say “To whom it may concern…” instead write:
  • “Dear Hiring Manager”, “Dear Search Committee Chair”, “Dear Ms. Grams & Search Committee Members”
  • Do not write, “Hey Ms. Grams” as this is not appropriate in a formal letter.


Body of the Cover Letter

  • Show how your skills, education, and experiences match the requirements of the position; this can be achieved by writing a paragraph that addresses each qualification.
  • Sell your qualifications by proving what you can do for the employer through specific examples.
  • Identify achievements that are relevant to the qualifications and responsibilities of the position.

Step 1

Highlight the job description. Take note of the required responsibilities, preferred qualities, and minimum qualifications.

Step 2

Select 3 highlighted elements of the job description that are most relevant to your qualifications. Examples: teamwork, budgeting, design, etc.

Topic 1:

Topic 2:

Topic 3:

Step 3

Identify experiences that show you can address the needs of the employer. Use specific accomplishments that tell the reader what you have to offer them.

Experiences that support topic 1:

Experiences that support topic 2:

Experiences that support topic 3:

Step 4

Match their requirements to your experiences. Tell a story that lets the reader see you in the position. Repeat for each of the 3 elements in step two.


As a junior Psychology student with a Marketing minor at Miami University, my focus has been on consumer behavior and the associated impacts for the organization. In the classroom I learned various marketing techniques and the importance of getting to know clients and their customers, and have applied these concepts as the Recruitment Chair for my sorority. By knowing what membership can offer potential new members and effectively communicating our message during limited interactions, we were able to increase membership by 35%, compared to an annual average of 18%.


  • Provide a few in-depth examples versus a short list
  • Quantify if possible — percentage increase
  • Show results (quantities, impact, significance)


Closing of the Cover Letter

Summary Statement

  • Reference your enclosed (if sent via mail) or attached resume (if sent via email).
  • Thank them for their time.


My related experiences, skills, and passion for innovative marketing make me an excellent candidate for the Marketing Intern with Western Marketing. My attached resume expands upon my skills and experiences. Please feel free to reach me by phone at (513) 555-5555 or by email at to further discuss how I can contribute to the Western Marketing team in an interview. I will contact you during the week of December 14 to follow up regarding next steps in the process. Thank you for your time and consideration.


It is optional to state that you will follow up. Do not give a specific date, but instead write, “… in two weeks” or “...the week of...” — unless they specifically say, “No phone calls” or, “We will follow up with you”.


Choose a professional salutation that matches the tone of the letter: Sincerely, Regards, Warm regards, Best regards. Include space to sign your letter if you are printing a copy of your letter.



Raul Gonzalez


  • Include email or phone number if you haven’t stated it within your cover letter.
  • Avoid “Cheers” or “Talk with you soon” as these are too conversational and not professional sounding.

Other Types of Letter Correspondence

Prospecting Letter

The purpose of this letter is to inquire about possible vacancies, get your resume read, and/or generate interviews. If possible, target specific individuals in specific organizations. As with all job-search correspondence, it is best to avoid generic “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom it may concern” letters. Structure this letter as you would the basic cover letter and focus on how your qualifications match the organization’s needs.

Interview Confirmation

Once an interview appointment has been made between you and a prospective employer, it is best to follow up on that conversation with a confirmation letter or email. Include the following:

  • Restatement of the date and time of the interview appointment.
  • Other pertinent details discussed on the phone:
  • completing appropriate employment forms prior to the interview
  • travel arrangements
  • itinerary
  • who you will meet
  • Your appreciation of the employer’s further consideration of your qualifications.

Interview confirmation letters and emails provide evidence to employers of the attention you give to detail and your ability to follow through in a work setting. Even though you have cleared this first hurdle in your job-search, you need to continue to convey to the employer your professionalism and interest in the position throughout the interview process.

Post-Interview Thank You

Thank you letters or emails should be sent promptly after each of your interviews, preferably within 24 hours. A well-written thank you letter will:

  • Remind the employer who you are.
  • Impress them with your courtesy and follow through.
  • Remind the employer of your background and qualifications.
  • Show your enthusiasm and continued interest in the field or specific position discussed.
  • Convey to the employer your sincere appreciation for their time and consideration.

Thank you letters or emails do not need to be lengthy or elaborate, but should be sent as a business courtesy. There are many different opinions about whether the thank you should be sent via email, handwritten note, or typed and sent as a business letter. Whatever format you choose, send it within 24–48 hours after the interview, if possible. An email sent right after the interview, followed by a handwritten note or typed letter is another alternative, especially if the employer intends to make a decision within the next week or so about who to hire or invite back to another interview.

When sending an email, make sure to use a format similar to what you would use if sending a written or typed correspondence. Do not put all of the text in one paragraph.

Job Offer Clarification

This letter is sent in response to a verbal or written job offer which does not provide all of the pertinent information you need to make an informed decision. Your letter should:

  • Indicate your interest in the employer and the offer.
  • Ask specifically for the information you need.
  • Express appreciation for the cooperation you receive.

This information may be requested via telephone but be certain to confirm all details in writing to avoid any future misunderstandings.

Letter of Acceptance

While this may be the most enthusiastic letter you will write to an employer, your letter of acceptance must also clarify some important information:

  • Refer to the offer made by the employer.
  • Restate terms of employment.
  • Confirm pre-employment details, including starting date, salary and benefits.

Close the letter by expressing your appreciation and pleasure in joining the organization.

Letter of Declination

As a courtesy, a formal letter of declination or an email should be sent to each employer who extended you an offer after you have made a decision to accept an offer from another organization.

Always be tactful and appreciative in declining an offer—in other words, don’t burn any bridges. You may want to work for these employers in the future. In any case, be certain to inform them of your acceptance of another employer’s offer.

Cover Letter Examples

Cover letters should convey that you have an understanding of what the position requires (usually described in the job description), how you meet the “required qualifications,” and possibly the “preferred qualifications.” Address what you can do for the employer and what you bring to the organization.

Example 1: Service Coordinator position at the Seniors Living Center

Below is a job description for a Service Coordinator position at the Seniors Living Center. The cover letter incorporates the key points highlighted in the job description. Notice how they provide specific examples of their work with seniors and people with disabilities.  They also refer to their upcoming graduation from Miami with a focus on Aging in Diverse Contexts, as well as their advocacy experience.

Service Coordinator

Exciting, full time opportunity exists with an industry leader to provide services to seniors and people with disabilities. Responsibilities include linking and monitoring supportive services, advocacy, information and referral.


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Gerontology, Aging Services, Social Work, or Related Degree
  • Experience working with seniors, chronically ill and disability services
  • Working knowledge of social service delivery systems

Application Requirements

  • Completed Application
  • Resume
  • Cover Letter

Cover Letter Example

241 Hoyt Hall
Oxford, OH 45056

June 10, 20XX

Jane Smith
Seniors Living Center
123 Main St.
Middletown, OH 45067

Dear Ms. Smith:

I am writing to apply for the position of Service Coordinator at Seniors Living Center. I have spent the last four years at Miami University studying the field of Gerontology and will be graduating with honors this May. My studies have focused on Aging in Diverse Contexts, and I have taken a variety of classes that explore aging from international perspectives and analyze the role of environment, culture and gender throughout an individual’s life span.

The Service Coordinator position matches my experience, studies and enthusiasm for gerontological studies. Miami University is home to the Scripps Gerontology Center and as described in the attached resume, I have been fortunate enough to spend the past two years assisting Dr. Robert Jones in his research on Ohio Family’s Satisfaction with Long-Term Care Facilities in the State. Researching long-term care opportunities in surrounding states, assisting in the development of the study’s survey and analyzing the results have given me a good understanding of opportunities and resources available to seniors in the area. This knowledge will allow me to refer individuals and their families to the appropriate resources to best serve their needs.

This past year, I completed an internship at Beechwood Acres working with chronically ill patients and individuals with disabilities. This experience exposed me to insurance and Medicare regulations for long-term care facilities. Wanting to advocate for my facility’s residents, I organized a trip of 10 colleagues to Washington D.C. to lobby our representatives for improved care and legal protection for individuals with disabilities.

My internship coupled with my research experience and academic studies make me a perfect fit for the Service Coordinator. I am particularly passionate about seniors and would welcome the opportunity to assist them in locating resources and advocating on their behalf. I will contact you during the week of June 20th to discuss an interview time. Please contact me at or 513-529-3831 if you have any questions. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Whitney Fitzsimmons

Whitney Fitzsimmons





Example 2: Internship with Cirque du Soleil

Below is a job description for an Internship with Cirque du Soleil.

Cirque du Soleil Internship Program Overview

Since 2006, Cirque du Soleil’s Resident Shows Division in Las Vegas has been offering structured internship opportunities to theater/arts majors each Summer and Fall and occasionally, Spring is offered.


An internship with Cirque du Soleil provides students who are studying Technical Theater, Stage Management and various disciplines of business (PR, Marketing, Graphics, etc.) the opportunity to learn through hands-on work experience within their field of interest. Each intern selected to enter the internship program will be placed within his/her primary field of interest (Automation, Wardrobe/Wigs, Rigging, Lighting, Audio, Carpentry, Projections, Props, Effects, Stage Management or the Las Vegas division offices). During the course of the internship, students will be able to interact with various levels of management and gain more experience in a large scale theater environment thereby helping to further develop their individual technical skills. Cirque interns are required to work forty (40) hours per week. Actual work schedules are determined by management and interns receive compensation equal to minimum wage.


  • The ability to participate in the entire length of the internship program (currently 12 consecutive weeks during either the Summer, Fall and occasionally Spring);
  • Hold enough credits within your college or university to be classified as either a Junior or
  • Senior;
  • Have a 3.0 GPA (cumulative or within your degree program);
  • Relevant work experience;
  • An understanding of how this internship will help you meet your future goals.

Application Requirements

  • Resume
  • Cover letter addressing what distinguishes you from other applicants
  • Letters of recommendation (2) from faculty members at your school


Cover Letter Example

222 Fox Run Drive
Oxford, OH 45056

February 17, 20XX

Lyn Leonard
Director of College Recruiting
Cirque du Soleil
333 Sands Drive
Las Vegas, NV 44444

Dear Ms. Leonard:

I am applying for the Stage Management Intern position at Cirque du Soleil posted on your Facebook site. I am a junior at Miami University studying theatre with a focus on stage and theatrical management. With a 3.91 GPA in my degree program, I have had the opportunity to learn applicable skills in stage management and theatrical production. I am seeking an eight to twelve week internship for the upcoming summer.

As a stage manager at Miami University, I have experience managing the rehearsal and production process. I have worked with diverse groups of people in various theatrical departments to complete main stage, dance and small stage productions. With each stage management experience, I continue to build on my organizational, collaboration, and technical abilities. For the Wilks Leadership Institute, I have also designed and implemented interactive campus-wide workshops with the goal of growing a culture of leadership on campus.

My previous Arts Management summer internship experience with Lakeside Chautauqua provided me with an understanding of a complex organization and the need for a clear, common vision and communication. This internship required that I collaborate with various administrative and technical departments to meet creative and operational challenges. I received excellent feedback from my supervisors and members of the technical department.

I value an environment that provides both teaching and practical hands-on experiences within the craft of stage management. I get excited about exploring the technical possibilities and using creativity to bring artistic visions to life. I am passionate about being a part of a visionary company that values collaboration and social responsibility. The Stage Management Internship with Cirque du Soleil is an ideal match for my desire to obtain an internship that provides a firm foundation on all aspects of the production process.

Attached is a copy of my resume, essay, and 2 letters of recommendation. Please let me know if you need any additional information. I will contact you during the week of February 25th to make sure you received my application materials and to discuss the next steps in your selection process.


Liz Weigand


Example 3: Cover Letter via Email

Dear Ms. Anderson:

I am writing to express my interest in completing an internship this summer with Extraneous Advertising in the area of project management. I became familiar with your organization after reading about your nomination for an Effie Advertising Award in the Philadelphia Business Journal. I possess the creativity, leadership experience, and work ethic to help Extraneous continue to excel in serving your health systems customers.

The attached resume highlights my leadership and educational experiences during my time at Miami University. My marketing major has provided me with a solid foundation in the principles of brand management and web-based marketing. Specifically, I was able to compete in a case competition in my Branding and Integrated Marketing Communication class. In a team environment, I conducted consumer focus groups, researched social networking trends, and created and developed an online presence for a local business. Through this project, I put into practice many computer skills, especially Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. After writing and presenting our proposal, the business selected to implement our strategy out of eight other presentations.

My leadership and creativity have also been enhanced by my involvement with the Campus Activities Council (CAC). As the chair of the recruitment committee, I developed a marketing plan and advertised our organization to students in order to increase the number of active members. I led two other members in developing a marketing plan that was implemented at eight Miami Athletic events. The result was an increase in active membership by 12% over a two month period. Through my involvement in CAC and other organizations, I have demonstrated the ingenuity, knowledge and determination to help Extraneous continue to succeed.

I am very interested in serving and learning at Extraneous Advertising this summer. I would appreciate the chance to discuss internship opportunities with you and will call the week of March 10 to see if we can arrange a meeting that is convenient for you. In the meantime, please contact me at if you have any further questions.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


James O’Hara
100 North Patterson Avenue
Oxford, OH 45056

Attachment: Resume

Example 4: Internship with XYZ Marketing

David L. Young

555-555-1234 | Chicago, IL |

September 22, 20XX

Loretta Cooper
XYZ Marketing
718 12th Street
Chicago, IL 61234

Dear Ms. Cooper:

Through Miami University’s career management system, Handshake, I learned of XYZ Marketing’s Summer Engagement Marketing internship program. This position caught my attention because of the opportunity to design multi-channel campaigns and focus on optimization.

I am currently in my third year at the Farmer School of Business at Miami University and am studying marketing and entrepreneurship. Last summer, as a Marketing and Special Events Intern at Harris Group, I developed a campaign for client acquisition, coordinated high profile events, and launched the Group’s social media platforms.

In my role as Director of Late Night Programming for Miami Activities and Planning (MAP) organization, I have coordinated internal and external organizations and vendors, deployed a social media marketing strategy for each signature event, and positively handled last minute schedule changes. Additionally, I managed an annual budget of $50,000 and a team of 3 peer event coordinators.

XYZ Marketing’s stellar reputation as “the go to marketing and event agency in the Windy City” drew me to the company. After a review of my resume, I welcome further conversation regarding my qualifications and interests. Thank you for taking the time to consider my application for the Summer Engagement Marketing internship program. I look forward to speaking with you soon.


David L. Young

Cover Letter Resources

Preparing a Cover Letter

LinkedIn, the online professional network, is an important complement to your cover letter and resume. 

Center for Career Exploration and Success

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