Yes, you need a cover letter. Here’s how to write one.

Writing a cover letter is a great opportunity to showcase why you are a great fit for the position and what you will bring to an employer. The letter should capture an employer’s attention and prompt them to want to learn more about you. Think of this as a chance to tell your story!  You can read all about a cover letters and see examples in the Center for Career Developments professional writing guide here.  For now, the Center for Career Development is here to help with some “Do’s and Don’ts” of writing a successful cover letter!


Do: Before you begin the writing process take some time to learn about the company or position you are applying to. While you are doing research highlight the skills or experiences that the employer is looking for and match them up with any corresponding experiences you have listed on your resume. These are the skills and experiences you will want to showcase in your cover letter!


Do: A cover letter is a business letter, it should have an appropriate heading and both clear and consistent font. You can also use the same header that you have on your résumé to display your information. Doing this will help for an employer to link your résumé and cover letter together.  Here’s an example of how the format should look.

Do not: Ident your paragraphs, write more than one page, have any grammatical mistakes.

Introduction Paragraph:  

Do: Let the employer know why you are applying and mention some specific details about the company and positon. Try and make a connection with the reader by expressing your interest in the organization or mentioning a common acquaintance. Conclude the paragraph with a sentence recapping your main interests and qualifications, identifying the skills, knowledge or experience that you will address further in the letter.

Do not: Write “Hello my name is”, “To whom this may concern” or any general statements regarding your desire to work for the organization or how you are impressed with it.

Body Paragraphs: 

Do: Make it clear that you are capable of doing the job in these paragraphs. This can be done by providing specific examples of past work, internship, volunteer, leadership or classroom experiences that are relevant to the job you are applying to. Sell yourself! Demonstrate your skills through examples. Anyone can say they have they have leadership skills but not everyone is in charge of 300 elementary school summer campers. By listing your actual experiences it can set you apart and prove your capabilities. Don’t forget to add specific details about the company to show interest and why you want this exact job.

Do not: Just repeat your résumé or CV.


Closing Paragraphs:

Do:  Take time to thank the employer for their time and reiterate your interest in the organization. Mention how you are hopeful to be hearing from them in the future.

Do not: Forget to sign your name.

Happy writing and good luck!