Cover Letters

Job Search letters provide an opportunity to make a good first impression with a prospective employer. They are a marketing tool that can be used to advertise your qualifications for a particular position. When they are well-written, they can provide evidence of a fit between your desires and qualifications above and beyond the objective resume format. Take the time to make your letter personalized and to illustrate a true fit between you and the organization.

Sample #1 – Engineering Cover Letter

Sample #2 – Insurance Cover Letter

Many cover letters take a three paragraph form. There are no hard and fast rules to writing a cover letter, but the following share what you might want to include in each paragraph:

First Paragraph

You want to introduce who you are and how you heard about the position. If you attended an informational session or met a particular employer at a career fair, mention that interaction as it shows you intentionally made a personal contact with the organization. This may also be a good place to mention your degree or what draws you to the position or company.

Second Paragraph

This is going to be the longest paragraph and the one that holds the most information. Sometimes people will split this section into two paragraphs or utilize a bullet point format. The main function of this paragraph is to prove a fit between your past experiences and knowledge and those for which the company are looking. Underline key phrases in the job description or within the company’s advertised values and mission and incorporate those into this section. You want to parallel your experiences with those that the organization/position desires and show how you match the qualifications and have done your research on the organization.

Third Paragraph

This paragraph serves as the conclusion and as the logistical mastermind. It is here that you want to re-state your interest in the position, and let the employer know that you will follow up with them in a week to ensure they received your application. Also invite them to contact you at your email address or phone number. Finally, thank them for their review of your application.

Other Hints

  • Use the same header (with your name and contact information) on your resume and cover letter to make application materials look consistent
  • If you are sending a cover letter electronically, you can include it in the document with your resume to minimize the amount of clicks an employer has to make to read your application materials
  • As with your resume, try to send it in a pdf, so you can ensure the employer is seeing what you see and the word document is not altered at all

For more information, look at our Career Matters Handbook online or pick up a hard copy in our office (Thomas, Room 103).  You may also make an appointment with a counselor for review of your cover letter.  Call 559.278.2381 to schedule.