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Centerville: Cover Letter

Cover Letter Do's & Don'ts

  • Do accompany each resume you send out with a cover letter.
  • Do identify the position in which you are applying.
  • Do watch the tone used. In other words, sound confident and enthusiastic.
  • Do use the same heading on top as you did for your resume.

  • Don't write more than one page and be concise and to the point.
  • Don't repeat your resume.
  • Don't send a letter without proofreading it carefully.

Tips for Writing a Successful Cover Letter

A cover letter is an introduction to your resume and qualifications.  It should include information about what you have to offer or can do for the company, why you will make a valuable employee, and other pertinent information that will capture the attention of the hiring manager.  The purpose of the cover letter is to demonstrate your communication and writing skills while distinguishing yourself from other applicants.

1. Target Your Message

Start by researching the organization and explain in concise, yet brief, detail how your skills, expertise and accomplishments can benefit the employer.  Indicate in the first paragraph the position you are applying for and how you learned about the position (e.g. internet, referral, etc.).  At then end of the letter, thank the reader for their time and consideration.

2. Be Purposeful

Just as you would a resume, tailor each cover letter to the job in which you are applying.  It is especially important to relate your skills and experience to that specific job in that specific company.  An effective letter incorporates the following: company knowledge, your enthusiasm for the position and organization, and communication skills.

3. Address the Letter to a Specific Individual

Ideally, the letter should be addressed to the person who is likely to make employment decisions.  If you do not know the contact person, call the human resources department and ask.  If you cannot find contact's name, then use "To Whom It May Concern:".

Cover Letter Outline

Your Name

Present Address

City, State, Zip Code


Date of Letter


Hiring Manager's Name




City, State, Zip Code


Dear Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr. ____________________, or To Whom It May Concern:

First Paragraph:

Indicate the reason you are writing the letter, the position you are applying for, and how you learned of the position.

Second Paragraph:

Explain your interest in the position and the organization.  Show the reader that you have done your research and know what makes the company unique and/or stand out from their competitors.  State persuasive facts about yourself, such as specific skills you possess which relate to the position, and how your experiences benefit the company.

Third Paragraph:

In the closing paragraph, express that you are very interested in an interview.  Make some final connection between the position and your qualifications. Finally, thank the individual for his/her time and consideration.



Your Handwritten Signature (if sending a paper copy)

Your Typed Name (if sending electronically)

Enclosures (denote resume, applications, etc. that are enclosed)


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The Career Center at Illinois. (n.d.). Write your cover letter. Retrieved from

University of Michigan. (n.d.). Cover letter resources. Retrieved from

University of South Carolina. (n.d.). Cover letter writing. Retrieved from

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