A cover letter introduces you to a prospective employer and explains why you are sending your resume. Your cover letter should also convey your knowledge and enthusiasm for the industry or organization, serve as a good example of your writing ability, and demonstrate how your education and experience qualify you for the opportunity.
Begin by answering the following questions to outline the content of each paragraph:
When and how will you follow up? Employers look favorably upon a proactive attitude.
How and where can you be contacted?
Peer Counselors - Make an appointment with a peer counselor by calling 315-859-4346. The Career Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and from 7-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Peer counselors also accept walk-ins, depending on availability, and lead cover letter workshops approximately twice a month.
Career Counselors - Appointments must be made at least 24 hours in advance; call 315-859-4346 or stop by the Career Center, located on the 3rd floor of the Bristol Center, to schedule an appointment.
Use of a business letter format is imperative for a professional letter. The following styles are acceptable:
Using any of the above styles, you may also choose to use the same header that you have on your resume.
Your present address
City, State Zip Code
Date of Letter
Name of Contact
Title of Contact
Name of Organization
City, State Zip Code
Dear Ms./Mr./Dr. (Name): If you do not have the person's name, do your best to get it. Call the organization and inquire to whom you should address you letter. Do not write "Dear Sir or Madam," or "Gentlemen." If necessary, you might address the person by title, "Dear Human Resources Manager" or by organization, "Dear (Name of Organization) Representative."
Opening Paragraph. This paragraph is intended to express your interest and fit with the position, organization, and/or field. Include a sentence or two summarizing this interest and fit. Stimulate your audience to continue reading. If applicable, tell how you heard of this opening or internship. If a person referred you to the organization, mention the person’s name and connection to the organization.
Body. This section consists of one or two paragraphs in which you tell the employer why you are a strong candidate for the position. Emphasize the employer’s needs – not your own. Demonstrate your ability and desire to perform the functions of the position by providing examples drawn from your work, academic, and/or extracurricular experiences.
In this section, you may also want to expand on your interest in the position and/or career field drawing from specific academic and work experiences. It is also appropriate in this section to identify a couple of personal qualities that you believe relate to the job and add to your specific skills to make you a strong candidate (i.e., responsible, hard-working, inquisitive). If possible, give specific examples of where these qualities have been demonstrated.
Closing Paragraph. Indicate your desire to arrange a mutually convenient time to interview and state when and how you will contact the employer, as well as how he/she may contact you. Mention any intentions of visiting the city where the organization is located because employers may be more apt to meet with you. Re-emphasize your interest in the position, thank the individual, and mention that you are looking forward to meeting him or her.
Type Your Name
An increasing number of employers are requesting that applicants submit their job application materials via email. It is not always clear how this should best be done.
If sending your materials via US Mail, print your cover letter and resume on high-quality paper with a watermark and a weight between 16 lbs. and 25 lbs., using a laser printer or the College’s Print Shop. Be sure to sign your letter; leave 3 spaces between your closing and your typed name to do so. Enclose all documents in a matching envelope for a professional look.
This type of letter is to be used as a first contact in setting up ACEP meetings or other informational interviews. Please refer to the Networking and Informational Interviewing Guide for more detailed information on this process.
Explain why you wish to meet with this particular person (i.e. you are interested in learning more about his/her field or organization) and mention how you received her/his contact information. You do not need to sell yourself as you would to a potential employer. It is more important to inform the reader how you came to learn of this person’s career field or place of employment and how he/she can be of assistance to you. Remember, this letter and subsequent meeting are NOT to be used for job solicitation purposes; rather, you are asking for information and advice regarding your own career exploration or job search.
Give a brief summary of your background, skills, and career interests as they relate to this person’s employment to provide some more concrete rationale for meeting with this contact. Build a case for your interest so that the contact can better understand why you would like to meet with her/him.
State that you would like to set up either a phone interview or face-to-face meeting (whichever is more feasible) and that you need less than thirty minutes of this person’s time. Offer a few dates and times that you will be available. You may wish to include your resume so that this person may gain a better understanding of who you are and how your background pertains to what he/she does. If you do choose to send your resume, indicate here that you have enclosed a copy. Mention that you will call to follow up with your letter, but also include your contact information (phone and email address) should she/he choose to get in touch with you. Remember to thank this person for his or her time and consideration.
Writing a thank you letter after an employment interview is a must. In fact, some employers think less of those interviewees who fail to follow-up promptly. You should send out your thank you letter within 24 – 48 hours after your interview.
In your letter, be sure to:
Thank you letters may be emailed, but there are some considerations. It may be advantageous to send via email because it will reach the employer quickly and may impact the hiring decision. If most of your prior correspondence with the employer has been via email, it should be acceptable to email the thank you letter. However, certain industries and employers may not consider an emailed letter appropriate. Base your decision on the organization’s culture and the people you met during your interview. If in doubt, always err on the side of caution and hand write or type the letter in a formal style. When typing a letter, choose high-quality paper with a watermark. If writing by hand, use a simple note card or personal stationery.
An acceptance letter is a formal notification to an employer that you are accepting a position. It should be sent only after an offer from the employer has been extended to you in writing. In your letter, state that you are accepting the position as outlined in the offer letter you received from the employer.
Even if you decline a job offer during a telephone conversation, it is a professional courtesy to decline the offer in writing. These letters can be difficult to write and you need to be careful not to "burn your bridges" for future job opportunities. Always use an appreciative tone and thank the employer for their interest in you. If you have accepted another offer, you may inform the organization of the opportunity you have taken.