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The Cover Letter

What is it?

The cover letter is a letter of application which accompanies or “covers” your resume to a prospective employer. This business style letter is just as important as your resume. The purpose of the cover letter is to:

  • explain why your resume has arrived
  • demonstrate why you are a strong candidate
  • request an interview.

Content

Your cover letter should speak directly to the needs of the position and organization you are interested in. Most cover letters are 3-5 paragraphs long and follow a simple formula.

First Paragraph. Clearly state your purpose for writing. What position are you applying for? How did you hear about it? Why are you interested in this position? This organization?

Middle Paragraphs. Show the specific fit between your education and experience and the position you are applying for. You may refer to your resume but do not simply restate the information on the resume. Use the cover letter to add additional examples or details. If you are responding to a posted position, be sure to specifically address the qualifications mentioned in the posting.

Closing Paragraph. Request an opportunity to discuss the position and your qualifications in an interview. Offer to provide additional information such as transcripts or references. Express thanks for being considered.

Enclosures

If you have supportive documents that you believe will work to your advantage, you may wish to enclose them. If the organization specifically requested information such as references or transcripts, be sure to include these materials or explain when and how you will be providing this information.

Tips

  • Keep it short–1 page
  • Use a business letter format
  • Address the letter to a specific individual
  • Call to verify spelling, title & gender
  • If a name is not available, address the letter to the appropriate title such as director of personnel or search committee
  • Make it interesting
  • Speak to the needs of the organization
  • Have the letter proofread by at least 3 people

Draft Your Cover Letter

Use this form to generate some of the information you may wish to include in your letter.

Heading

Your address:

Your telephone number:

The date:

Inside Address

Contact person’s name:

Title:

Organization name:

Organization address:

Salutation

Dear _______________________:

First Paragraph

Name of position you are applying for:

How did you hear about it?

Why are you interested in this position?

Why are you interested in this organization?

Middle Paragraphs

What are the qualifications for this position?

What evidence can you provide to prove you have these qualifications?

What is the philosophy/mission of the organization?

How can you contribute to this?

What else should this employer know about you?

Closing Paragraph

What would you like to happen next? Enclosures? Statement of appreciation.

Closing phrase

Signature

Typed Name

For additional information on how to write a cover letter, visit the Augusta Career Resource Center or the CRC at your Center or Campus.

 

University of Maine at Augusta