Cover Letters

A cover letter introduces you and generates interest in your background and qualifications while connecting your resume to the job description.

Tailor each Letter to the position

Write a new letter for each position rather than creating e a general "template" to adjust each time. Before you begin:

  • Research the industry/field/employer.
  • Carefully study the job description and highlight important keywords.
  • Target your content to a specific position and organization.
  • Describe your strengths relative to the employer's needs.
  • Express confidence and enthusiasm.
Parts of a Cover Letter

ADDRESS AND SALUTATION

Address each cover letter to a specific person. If you are not sure of the addressee’s gender, use the full name: Dear Terry Smith, rather than Mr. Smith or Ms. Smith. If you cannot obtain the name, address the letter to the position of the recruiter, e.g., Dear Human Resources Director or Dear Search Committee.

INTRODUCTION: Why are you writing?

In the first paragraph establish the purpose of the letter and indicate the position for which you are applying. Follow this with a positive statement about your qualifications. You may also note how you learned about the position. The first paragraph allows the reader to discard applicants who are not qualified for the position.

BODY: What do you have to offer?

The next paragraph or two should emphasize the skills or experience that qualify you for the position. Relate your background to the individual job description. Include any special training or experience that might set you apart from your competition. Focus on the benefits to the organization your qualifications offer.

CLOSING: What happens next?

In the final paragraph, restate your interest in the position and refer to the included resume. Explain your next action, and thank the reader for considering you for the position. Express your willingness to meet for an interview at the person's convenience. Depending upon the type of position, you may also need to indicate your willingness to provide supplemental information such as education credentials, research interests, or design portfolio.

Focus, Proof, and Send

Focus

Avoid repeating in your cover letter the information already on your resume. Rather than listing your duties and responsibilities, focus on the skills and competencies gained through them that qualify you for the position. Most cover letters are only one page, but experienced professionals may extend to two pages.

Proof

Once completed, every cover letter should be proofread several times by you and at least two others. Perfection in grammar, spelling, and neatness count.

Send

The cover letter may be the text of your email to which you attach a resume or may be attached separately. If attached, write a brief message referencing the position for which you are applying. This must also be perfect in grammar, spelling, and neatness.

Cover Letter Reviews A face to face (or phone) meeting about your resume or cover letter is ideal. Please bring a printed resume to your appointment.

However, if you live outside Lincoln or cannot meet during regular office hours, a career adviser can provide feedback via e-mail. Send your resume and/or cover letter with a job description or brief explanation of what it will be used for. Allow 3 business days for response.

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