A Cover Letter Is

A cover letter is:

Whenever you mail a resume to an employer whether through snail mail or email, it must be accompanied by a cover (explanatory) letter.

 The Purpose

  • Resumes accompanied by well-written cover letters tell employers of your sincere interest. Resumes sent without cover letters suggest that you are randomly sending copies to everyone without much thought or effort. (This is true for emailed resumes as well.)
  • A cover letter should be written to communicate what you can do for an employer and why you would be a good employee. In contrast to a resume, which notes your skills as they relate to your stated objective, the cover letter serves to highlight skills and accomplishments which match the requirements of the desired position.

The Form

  • Each letter is individually prepared and typed or word-processed on good quality paper, preferably the same paper as that used for the resume. Buy matching envelopes, as well. If you are sending an email, start with your cover letter and then include the resume within the same email.
  • Your letter must be addressed to a specific person. If you don’t know the name of the appropriate individual, call the receptionist at the organization or go to the organization's website.
  • State your reason for writing in the first paragraph.
  • In the second paragraph explain the contributions you can make to the organization by directing attention to specific skills mentioned in your resume.
  • In the third paragraph indicate why the organization is of interest to you.
  • You should research the places you are contacting because cover letters that stand out are those that demonstrate knowledge of the employer. A sentence or two revealing your knowledge of a firm’s training program, a new product, or a current situation can carry a lot of weight.
  • Use the Internet to research employers. Most organizations have a website. If they do not, go to Sprague Library and use their data bases.
  • Take the initiative and say that you will call to set up an interview.
  • Use simple, direct language and correct grammar.
  • Let the letter reflect your individuality, but avoid appearing aggressive, overbearing, apologetic, and cute. This is a business letter.

 Samples follow showing different kinds of letters you may need in the course of your job hunt.       

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to see these documents. Download Adobe if you don't already have it.

 Visit the office to see other samples:

  • The letter of inquiry
  • The thank you letter after an interview
  • The thank you letter even though you didn’t get the job
  • The thank you letter rejecting the offer of a position
  • Letter requesting company information and an annual report

Check out the samples at Optimal Resume.