Writing a Cover Letter

How to write the best cover letter possible.

Quick Tips for Cover Letters

For more information, dowload our Cover Letter Packet 

View Cover Letter Samples

The Basics

Why do you need a cover letter? Cover letters are used as a means of introduction. Your cover letter allows you to briefly present yourself as the perfect candidate by highlighting your most impressive and relevant experience.

Cover letters are typically used when required as part of the application OR when you are emailing an employer directly (then it is used as the body of your email).

You should write a different cover letter for EACH position to which you apply. Incorporate information based on your company research, the job description, your knowledge of the individual receiving the letter, and your personal experiences that most relate to the job.

Length

  • One page
  • 3-5 paragraphs, including
    1) Introduction
    2) 1-3 paragraphs demonstrating your qualifications
    3)Conclusion

Business Format

  • Use the same header as your resume OR include your address, city, state and zip code at top of the page.
  • Skip a line and include the date
  • Include the recipient's name, title, department/division, company name and business address
  • Include a Salutation:
    ° Good morning/afternoon/evening
    ° Dear Human Resources Director
    ° Dear Hiring Manager
    ° Dear Ms. Blanchette (Mr. or Dr. are also appropriate - always use last name)
  • Each paragraph should be separated by one blank line

Cover Letter Dos and Don'ts

DO use spell check - misspelled words on a cover letter will almost certainly send your application packet straight to the bottom of the pile, if not the trash.

DO proofread your letter several times.  Spell check can't always catch "there" vs. "their" and may not notice that you typed "Rolling" instead of "Rollins."

DO ask someone else to proofread your cover letter.  It's always a good idea to have fresh eyes review your work to catch any small mistakes you may have missed.  Don't forget, Career & Life Planning can help!  Drop off your cover letter in the office and pick it up the next day with plenty of tips and suggestions written in the margins.  

DO keep your cover letter brief.  Busy employers do not want to read detailed, lengthy descriptions of your entire work history from age 12-present.  Stick to the highlights and keep your cover letter on one page.

DO use professional language.  Remember, this is an employer's first impression of you as a potential employee

DON'T hide your reasons for writing the letter down in the last paragraph.  Begin your letter by telling the reader why you are writing.

DON'T begin your letter with something like, "Hi, My name is Sam Smith and..."  The employer can read your name at the bottom in the signature.

DON'T overuse the thesaurus.  Speak in everyday language that is clear, easy to understand, and professional.  If you don't really know the meaning of a word, don't use it in your letter!

DON'T use the same cover letter every time you submit a resume.  Tailor your letter to be specific to the job for which you are applying. 

Center for Career and Life Planning
Rollins College
170 W. Fairbanks Bldg. – 1st Floor
1000 Holt Avenue – 2757
Winter Park, Florida  32789
T. 407.646.2195
careercenter@rollins.edu

Office Hours
Monday – Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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