Cover Letter Guide

When applying for a job or internship, your cover letter should introduce you to the organization, express your interest in the position, and match your skills and experiences to the role. A well-written cover letter shows employers that you have taken the time to craft a personal response to their specific job opportunity and that you are serious about the position.

The tips below will help you create a strong and compelling cover letter that will catch the reader’s interest and grant you an interview.

Preparing to Write

Before you begin writing, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the position and organization you are applying to.

Examine the job description and ask yourself:

  • which of your past experiences have prepared you for this role?
  • what skills does the job require?
  • which of those skills do you have, and what have you done that proves you have those skills?
Organizing and Writing

Opening paragraph

  • state your reason for writing (“I am writing to apply for…”)
  • explain how you found the position
    • if a person at the organization referred you and you have permission to use their name, mention them here
  • why you are interested in the position and why you would be a good fit for the organization
    • be specific and reflect on why you are applying— what is it about the role or organization that you connect with or feel strongly about?

Body paragraph(s) (1-2)

  • state your major(s)/concentration(s) and relevant academic background
  • connect a few past experiences to the 3 or 4 most important qualifications for the position
    • give examples of specific skills and how they would transfer to the position
  • why should the organization hire you?

Closing paragraph

  • briefly summarize your interest in the role and show how much you would like to become part of the team
  • state that you hope to hear from the organization and look forward to speaking with them further
  • thank the reader for their time and state how they can reach you

All cover letters generally follow a similar format and style.

  • no more than one page
  • don’t indent paragraphs
  • single spaced, with a space between paragraphs
  • use a well-known font such as Times New Roman or Arial
  • size 10-12 font
  • heading should include the date, name of contact person, organization, address, and phone number
Drop in to the Piper Center and meet with a Peer Advisor for more help.
After your initial critique, schedule an appointment on Handshake with a Piper Center Career Coach specializing in your field for the finishing touches.