Preparing Professional Cover Letters

by Constance DeVereaux and Jennifer Hillman Helgren

When you apply for a job, your cover letter, the introductory letter that accompanies your resume, is what prospective employers see first. Its purpose is to tell why the letter and resume have been sent and to tell prospective employers why they should be interested enough to take a close look at your resume. Below are some helpful hints for writing an effective cover letter and for concisely highlighting your qualifications.

Use the business letter format. Use 8.5x11 paper that matches your resume. Be simple and tasteful, not cute or flashy. Address the cover letter to the person in charge of hiring, e.g. a manager.


Keep your cover letter brief. One page is recommended.


Begin by telling the prospective employer what position you are applying for and stating the qualification/s you think are most useful for that position.


Describe briefly what you know about the job and employer, and why you are interested in the position.


Give more extensive information on your qualifications. Expound on information listed on your resume, information you really want the employer to know.


Use action words (e.g. administered, discovered, improved, surveyed, etc.) to show your involvement and participation in your work. You can check job announcements and use the same language in your cover letter to show that you are familiar with the types of activities for which you are applying.


Link to Sample: Letter from Ben Quest - Position desired: Analyst Consultant for C-Bridge

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