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How to Write a Winning Cover Letter

Whenever you mail a resume or application to an employer, it should be accompanied by a cover letter. However, cover letters are not necessary when you present your resume to an employer you do not have an appointment to see, or when presenting your resume at a career fair such as CAREER EXPO.

The cover letter is often the first contact you have with a prospective employer. Its purpose is to create a favorable, professional impression while
you introduce your background and interest in employment opportunities. It is called a “cover” letter because you always put it over your resume, and
fold them together to go into one envelope. It is also used to “cover” the key elements of your background that you want an employer to consider. Keep the following points in mind as you prepare your cover letter:

  • The cover should be typed neatly on a single page of stationery that matches the paper of your resume
  • Fold them together and mail in a matching envelope or, because employers are increasingly scanning resumes, it may be more appropriate to send your cover letter and resume unfolded in a large envelope.
  • Address the letter to a specific individual. The SIRC office can help you locate contact names for various employers.
  • Keep in mind that your cover letter is also a writing sample. Show the employer your best “simple and direct” writing style.
  • Include the following information in your letter:
    • How you learned of the opening (or why you are writing)
    • What special elements of your education or experience would enable you to do an outstanding job
    • What attracts you to this particular opportunity
    • What action you would like the employer to take in response to your letter

Have someone read over your letter for content and style.


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