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Cover Letter Guide

A cover letter is a document written in business letter format to a potential employer, which you may include with your resume when applying for internships or jobs.

Top Tips

Get personal

Your cover letter should be personalized; it is the best way to introduce yourself when applying for internships and jobs. Use your cover letter to communicate who you are and why you want the job or internship with enthusiasm.

Establish a brand

The styling of your cover letter, resume and any other application documents should match (such as font and headings). This demonstrates that you have the ability to craft a brand identity and be consistent.

Give before you get

Tell the employer what you have to offer them, not the other way around. Cover letters give voice to your resume, transforming a list of bullet points into a person—a person that employers should want to hire.

Do your homework

Cover letters should be customized to each position and directly speak to the internship or job description and responsibilities. Careful review of the posting and a little online research can get you started.

When possible, address your cover letter to a specific person. Reading “Dear Sir or Madam,” or “To whom it may concern,” does not have as much impact on a recruiter than including their name. Search on LinkedIn or ask in advance who will be screening applications.

Elaborate, don’t reiterate

Try not to simply repeat everything on your resume in your cover letter; that is redundant. The body of your cover letter should describe your most relevant experiences and accomplishments, as well as recent skills you have gained and how you plan to apply those to the position you are seeking.

Set yourself apart

Avoid clichés and vague descriptions like “I am a people-person.” Show the hiring manager what makes you different from other applicants. Focus on your strengths, not areas you need to grow in. Do not be afraid to incorporate your personality in what you write.

Be brief

Keep your cover letter to one page or less.

Follow directions

If an application includes instructions to omit a cover letter, honor that. If an application states a specific format, such as PDF, submit your cover letter in that format.

Follow directions closely throughout all parts of your application, including the cover letter.

Sample Cover Letter

Typed letter icon

View or make a copy of a sample cover letter in Google Docs