Alumni Career Services

Cover Letter Formatting

Heading, Address and Greeting

The heading should include your address, the date, your phone number and the e-mail addresses where you can be reached. Ensure that your voice mail sounds professional (especially if you are using your home phone). Additionally, ensure that all of the contact information is accessible to both parties in a professional and confidential manner. The inside address should be a standard business letter format including the name of the addressee, title, company and business address. The greeting should simply be "Dear Mr. or Ms. (last name)".

Body

NotebookThe first paragraph explains why you are contacting the reader. It should identify the position that you are seeking and tell how you found out about this position.

The second paragraph should describe your skills and qualifications that are relevant to the company and position. This is the most important part of your cover letter - it must entice the reader to review your resume. You must clearly demonstrate to the employer how your interests, education and experience fit the job requirements. Use the job requirements (as listed on the job description) and match them to your skills. Refer the reader to your resume for additional information concerning your background and interests. If you have related experience or specialized training, be sure to point it out. Show the employer what you will be able to do for this organization.

The third paragraph is all about action! This paragraph should contain your specific "next steps." This will demonstrate how you will follow up to pursue the position.  Polite aggressiveness is a very favorable quality to have as a potential candidate. Make the next action step your responsibility.

Closing & Enclosures

The closing is as simple as "Sincerely yours."

If you need to copy this letter to another individual (especially if the potential manager is not the designated addressee), do so by simply typing copy: (name) at the bottom of the letter. To include an enclosure such as a résumé, write Enclosures at the bottom under copy.

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