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Job Search: Cover Letter

Your cover letter and curriculum vita and/or resume may well be the most important documents you will ever write.


The structure of the cover letter:

1st Paragraph:

  • Identify the title of the position in which you are applying.
  • Mention how you heard of the opening (journal, website, referral from individual, etc.).
  • State why you are interested in the position and/or organization.

2nd and 3rd Paragraph:

  • Explain your qualifications for the position (educational background, work experience, etc.).
  • State one or two accomplishments to clarify your skills and abilities you bring to the job. Do your best to connect your qualifications to the needs of the department or corporation.

Final Paragraph

  • Express interest in meeting with the employer to further discuss your candidacy.
  • Offer to provide extra materials or additional information.
  • Thank the committee or individual for their consideration.
  • Provide your contact information - preferably a phone number to best reach you.

Other points to consider:

  • Each letter should be printed on plain white or cream bond paper with a matching envelope. If you are enclosing a resume, the letter and resume should be on matching bond paper. Type size should be 10-12 point.
  • Address the letter to a specific individual using his or her correct title. (If the posting only states "Chairman, Search Committee", call the department administrative assistant for the name of the chairperson).
  • Tailor your cover letter to the company or university to which you are writing. Research to help you determine your approach. Check the company's website and other resources on the internet.
  • Ideally, the cover letter will be one page in length.
  • Avoid using acronyms, contractions or abbreviations.
  • Highlight your strengths and qualifications as to why you are a good fit for the position. Do not mention weaknesses.
  • Have it proofread by at least one other individual. It is critical that it is free of errors.
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Page Updated 07/26/2013