Cover LetterLanguage | Format | Content
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A cover letter should accompany each résumé you send to a prospective employer. Your cover letter is your introduction; it describes who you are, why you are interested in the position, and the value you can add to the organization. Do not duplicate your résumé in your cover letter. Instead, use your cover letter to add a personal touch and highlight the most relevant experience on your résumé, which tends to be more data-driven. The following are some cover letter recommendations:
|Check over the spelling and grammar several times, gaining feedback from Career Center counselors, friends and family members. Misspellings and typos on a cover letter can eliminate the possibility of interviewing with a company.|
| The cover letter should be brief, no longer than one page in length if sent via hard copy mail. |
Emailed applications should contain a cover letter in the body of the email with a résumé attached.
Typically, three or four short, easy-to-read paragraphs are adequate.
Keep your cover letter looking professionally; use a standard font (i.e. Times New Roman, Ariel, etc.), and avoid using bolded or underlined text. In special cases, such as when applying for design positions, students are encouraged to consider a more unique résumé aesthetic as a way to show their work.
| If you have recruiter contact information, address your cover letter to him or her. If you do not have recruiter contact information, apply to a blind advertisement with, "Dear Recruiter:" |
Find out as much about the position and company as possible and tailor each cover letter toward the opportunity for which you are applying. This might involve some research. Illustrate that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill the position requirements. It will show them that you have done your homework and assure them that you are a good match for the position. It will also avoid the appearance that you have sent them a generic cover letter, which could have been sent to any company for almost any position. If you are responding to an advertisement, make sure that you address all of the position qualifications.
If you have developed a good networking relationship with an individual in the organization, upon their approval, use their name in your cover letter.
Communicate that you can add value to the organization. Associate the company product with your capabilities. Avoid making the common egocentric mistake of describing why the position would be good for you. Organizations are interested in how your skills, abilities, and ideas will benefit their enterprise.
Let the cover letter reflect your individuality, but avoid appearing too familiar, humorous or ironic. Describe what is particularly appealing to you about this company and/or position. If you admire some of their recent work, a current project or their philosophy of operation, let them know.
Close the cover letter by taking the initiative and requesting an interview. List your contact information for follow-up purposes.
Simon T. Brainsample
75 Via Limone
New York, NY 11220
Gully T. Gumby
Fawlty Systems, Inc.
Torquay, NY 00000
Dear Mr. Gumby,
Your advertisement in Job Choices '05 prompted me to contact you about entry-level positions in electrical engineering at Fawlty Systems, LTD. The product engineering program at your company is very appealing. I am particularly interested in your project on digital systems. In May of this year I will receive a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from The Cooper Union and I hope that we will have an opportunity to discuss employment possibilities before that time.
In addition to the knowledge I've obtained from my education, my experience as an assistant to a plant engineer has provided me with an excellent background in the practical aspects of electrical engineering.
During my years at The Cooper Union, I have taken on many additional responsibilities. As a freshman, I managed the Student Council and played varsity tennis. In my junior year I was employed by the Student Services Office where I received first-hand experience in organization, teamwork and responsibility. I hope that you will seriously consider my enclosed résumé, which provides full details of my qualification.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to speaking with you. I may be reached between the hours of 9am and 5pm at 212 355.4343.
Simon T. Brainsample
Simon T. Ellis
1 Astor Place
New York, NY 10003
Mr. Brian Davidson
Senior Vice President
Anchor Systems, Ltd.
345 First Avenue
New York, NY 10004
Dear Mr. Davidson:
I learned about the Electrical Engineering position with Anchor Systems, Ltd on the Cooper Career Connection Web site, and I am interested in further discussing this exciting opportunity. As a graduating electrical engineer undergraduate student at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, my academic background, coupled with my relevant work experience, has given me the tools and ability necessary to add value to the position, and ultimately your organization.
My interest in electrical engineering is long standing and my well-rounded background makes me an excellent candidate for the Electrical Engineering position. I secured an IT Analyst Internship with Credit Suisse First Boston in the summer of my freshman year, and gained exposure to the financial industry, while enhancing their software by developing search subroutine and upload script modules. As a sophomore, I served as Treasurer on the Student Council and played varsity tennis. In my junior year, I attained a position in the Student Services Office where I received first-hand experience in organization, teamwork, and responsibility. I have earned several awards while a student at Cooper Union, including the Bausch and Lomb Award for Excellence in Science, in June 2005 and Dean's List in the Fall of 2004.
Please find my attached résumé, which provides full details of my qualification. Feel free to contact me at (212) 353-4567 or firstname.lastname@example.org for any following up purposes. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to further discussing the Electrical Engineering opportunity with you.Sincerely,
Simon T. Ellis
How to Choose the Right Font and Size for a Cover Letter
Which font should you use in your cover letter? What will make the best impression? When you are writing cover letters, it's important to use a font that is clear and easy to read. When hiring managers have to review dozens – if not hundreds – of applicants for a position, they may immediately pass over a cover letter and resume that aren’t instantly legible. Here's how to select a cover letter font and the appropriate font size for your letter.
Be sure to make your font large enough so that the reader doesn't have to squint to read your letter, but not so large that your letter doesn't fit well on the page.
Choose the Best Font Size and Style for Your Cover Letter
When it comes to choosing a font to use in your cover letter, your best bet is to keep it simple and professional. You want your words and message to stand out - not your font choice. Avoid using unprofessional novelty-style fonts such as Comic Sans, handwriting, or script-style fonts.
Ideally, the font used in the cover letter will be both the same size and style as the one used within your resume, to help you present a cohesive package. Review these tips for determining the right font for your cover letter, as well as what size it should be, and which styles are - and are not - appropriate to use within a cover letter.
Best Fonts for Cover Letters
Using a simple font will ensure that your cover letter is easy to read.
Basic fonts like Arial, Courier New, Calibri, Verdana, and Times New Roman work well. Most word processing and email programs will default to a professional and easily readable choice.
Limit yourself to one font in your cover letter; it's best not to mix several fonts in one document.
There is no need to use different styles in a cover letter.
Avoid underlining or italicizing, and use boldface text only when emphasizing quantifiable achievements that need to “pop” on the page.
What's an Appropriate Font Size?
Depending on how much content you have in your letter, select a 10 or 12 font size.
It's best if you can format your cover letter so it fits on one page, with margins that are no large than 1” and no smaller than .7”.
If your letter includes a heading with your name and contact information, you may choose to make this font slightly larger.
How to Select a Cover Letter Font
- Select a font from the list at the top of your document before you start writing your letter, or:
- Type your cover letter.
- Highlight the content of your letter.
- Either select the font from the pop-up window or select the font from the list at the top of the document.
- Select the font size you want to use the same way.
- Proofread your cover letter.
- Print your cover letter, even if you are going to upload it online, to make sure that it is formatted, properly spaced, and looks the way you want.
Include Plenty of White Space
Regardless of the font size you select, there needs to be space at the top of the letter and between each paragraph and each section of your cover letter.
Here's how to space your cover letter.
When you are using Microsoft Word, here is how to select a template for your letter and how to select the font style and font size. If you're using a different word processing program, the process is similar. Select the content of your cover letter, then choose a font and a font size.
You may need to try a couple of different sizes to make sure that your cover letter fits on a single page. Review these formatting tips to be sure your letter will make the best impression.
Email Cover Letters
The information above applies primarily to instances where you are sending a traditional cover letter by snail mail or when you are sending a formal cover letter as a Word or PDF attachment to an email message. Be forewarned that copy-and-pasting a cover letter into the body of an email message may destroy the formatting, making it difficult to read for an employer who may have a different computer system.
The safest thing to do when you are copy-and-pasting your cover letter to email is to remove all formatting and HTML and submit it as plain text.
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