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Cover Letter

Any time you send a resume or application to an employer, you should include a cover letter. Whenever you’re not face-to-face with an employer, your cover letter is your introduction. 


  • Write a separate cover letter for every position. The best cover letters are customized for the employer receiving them.
  • Don’t just talk about YOU. Your resume talks about you. Demonstrate you’ve done your employer research and show them how you’re the best candidate for THEM. This means talking about THEM and how you’re a fit for what they need/want.
  • Demonstrate professional, simple and direct writing style while also expressing personal interest and excitement.
  • As with your resume, your cover letter is a writing sample. Proofreading for grammatical and spelling errors, typos, and content/style is just as important. Mistakes can wreck your chances of moving forward.
  • Think of your cover letter like a response to a personal ad- you’re connecting your interests and experiences with the other person- being genuine, conveying interest, and showing that you understand what’s important to them and sharing their values. You don’t have to tell them your life story- you’re telling them enough to convince them they want to invite you to an interview and learn more.


  • Your resume and cover letter should match in both style and appearance.
  • Fold them together and mail in a matching envelope or, because employers are increasingly scanning resumes, send your cover letter and resume unfolded in a large envelope.
  • If you’re e-mailing your resume as an attachment, it’s not necessary to also attach a cover letter. The e-mail message itself serves as a cover letter. Write it accordingly.
  • If you’re applying online, include a cover letter, even if it’s optional.
  • Address the letter to a specific individual.


If you are having difficulty getting the tone of your cover letter right, you’re not alone. Many job seekers struggle with cover letters that sound artificial or too impersonal. If you find yourself in that situation, try this:

  • Write a letter to someone you know well. Tell them about the position you are applying for, how you found it, why you are interested/excited, why you think you would be a good candidate, what parts of the job you would especially enjoy, and what you know and like about the employer.
  • Now that you have a letter that sounds like you, put it into cover letter format, fill in any pieces that are missing, and edit the language to make it a little more professional or formal if needed. It’s much easier to make something informal sound more formal than the other way around.

Need additional assistance? Log in to Handshake and make an appointment with a career advisor; we can help with formatting and give your letter a final review!