What does a cover letter do?

When the two documents are printed and placed on someone’s desk, the cover letter literally covers the resume. You use the cover letter to draw the reader’s attention to a few key parts of your resume. Utilize the cover letter to expound upon the bullet points of a few of your experiences on your resume. 

Someone typing on their laptop

When to write a cover letter?

Write a new letter for each person/application. Sure, you’ll convey some of the same information, and maybe you’ll copy and paste a bit of it from a prior letter, but overall you need to start fresh each time so that you can make the recipient feel like you are speaking solely to them. 

Three people looking at something on a computer.

Who is the reader of a cover letter?

Employers or potential networking contacts will be looking to see a snapshot of your experience, skills, and interest in the job/internship/fellowship or networking conversation. View sample cover letters.

What to include and formatting

  • This business letter accompanies your resume; even when optional, it is always recommended
  • Answers two questions: why them? (why are you interested in this opportunity and organization) and why you? (why should they hire you)
  • Address to an individual using the correct title or full name, e.g. Dear Senator Schumer, Dear Dr. Perawi, Dear Ms. Obed, Dear Amber Green
  • Focus on how you meet their needs rather than on what the employer has to offer you

It’s important to convey interest and aptitude in any cover letter.

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