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Guide to Managing Your Career | Wharton MBA Career Management
This chapter discusses job search letters and is organized into the following sections:
What are Job Search Letters?
Guidelines for Effective Job Search Letter Writing
Traditional Cover Letters
Thank You Notes
The term “job search letters” refers to all written communication utilized during your job search process including:
• Traditional cover letters
• Thank you notes
• Introductory emails (see Chapter 4 for specifics on crafting networking emails)
• General communication (e.g. asking a question or confirming a scheduled meeting)
Effective written communication is a necessary part of the job search effort. Creating effective content for your job
search letters requires that you understand yourself (see Chapter 2) and know the market (see Chapter 3).
Since written communications are often the first contact hiring managers (e.g. recruiters and/or application readers)
have with you, the quality of your correspondence is critical and affects their impression of you. Unlike verbal
communication, which is transient, written communication is essentially permanent. Employers will have possession
of what you wrote and can refer to it repeatedly or forward it to others. As such, it is wise to approach written
communication seriously – take the time to consider the content and craft it smartly – even for a short email asking a
simple question. Leverage all types of written communication to your advantage and establish the link between you
and the company/position.
The following guidelines apply to all written job search communication:
• Know your audience (e.g. the hiring manager and company). The more you know about the needs of your
audience, the easier it is to focus on those needs and to communicate your ability to meet those needs. The more
evident your familiarity with the firm, job and industry, the more seriously you will be taken as a candidate.
• Focus on the reader. Think about your audience’s needs, not your own. Consider the responsibilities the job
requires rather than how the reader can benefit you. As you write, ask yourself, “What would the reader think of
this paragraph?” or “How would this paragraph compare with that of other candidates?”
• Be professional. While a company may appear to have an informal culture, avoid the mistake of communicating
in an overly familiar manner. You are unlikely to be eliminated from consideration for being too professional
but you may be eliminated from consideration if your initial correspondence is perceived as a sign of disrespect.
Being professional does not mean being cold and distant, it means not taking the reader’s position for granted.
• Be personable. You are communicating with other people – not an inanimate computer, an inanimate
“company,” or “job posting.” People respond well to honesty, authenticity, humility, and good will. In fact,
recognizing and sharing these intangibles can go a long way. You may be competing with someone who has a
very similar background but you may get the interview because you were more personable and gracious in your
• Be concise, clear and specific. Show you have a clear understanding of what you want and the points you want
to make. Conciseness and clarity demonstrate that you know how to communicate well. When employers see
Chapter 6 | Job Search Letters
Guide to Managing Your Career | Wharton MBA Career Management
that you have this skill in written communication, they will likely conclude that you are able to make clear
points in verbal communication.
Eliminate errors. Avoid grammatical, spelling and formatting mistakes. Your written communications represent
your professionalism. If your document contains errors, employers are justified in thinking, “If you didn’t take
time to even proofread and correct your cover letter before sending it, how will you be able to produce flawless
work for me?”
What is a Cover Letter?
Cover letters originally (before the email age) got their name because they were mailed with resumes and placed on
top of the resume as a “cover” for the entire application. Today cover letters are typically emailed with the resume as
part of a job application. Also, sometimes a cover letter is uploaded with the resume to online application systems.
In each scenario, the purpose of the cover letter is to compliment your resume and get you the interview.
Email Etiquette
When applying to a position by email, consider inserting the cover letter into the body of the email and also
attaching it with your resume to the email message. This can be helpful when you think the recipient is likely to
forward your message onto other people within the organization. If you opt to attach the cover letter to your email, it
is best to format it using formal business standards. If you insert the content of the cover letter into the body of the
email, then an address header is not necessary. Lastly, use thoughtful and specific “subject lines” in your emails.
While subject lines are a small part of the process, they can make a difference – use a subject line such as
“Application for product manager position – First Name Last Name.”
Why is a Cover Letter Important? What is the Hiring Manager Seeking?
Your cover letter creates a link between you and the position for which you are applying by illustrating the
compelling match between your background/interests and the company’s needs.
A cover letter should accomplish the following:
• Differentiate your application from the rest of the candidates
• Create a bridge between your resume and the position. Your resume communicates your past (highlighting your
experiences, skills and impact) and the cover letter communicates the link between your past and your potential
future at the company
• Explain how your previous experiences, your interest in the position/industry and your skills will be an asset to
the company
• Highlight for the hiring manager why you are a fit for the company and a strong candidate for the position
• Show passion and interest in the position. Demonstrate you have researched the company (an indication that
you are truly interested)
• Share information that is not included on your resume. This can be an effective place to address gaps in
employment or other potential concerns about your resume. Since your resume is a streamlined marketing
document (see Chapter 5), the cover letter gives you the opportunity to expand on your experiences and
accomplishments as they relate to the position
• Demonstrate your writing and communication skills as well as your attention to detail
• Add a personal touch. You can use the cover letter to give the hiring manager a glimpse into who you are and
why he/she would want to meet you
Too often students and job candidates mistakenly believe that hiring managers do not read cover letters and that
consequently, writing them is a waste of time. This is a myth. Most employers assign a great deal of value to cover
letters which offer initial insight into you and why you are applying for the position; therefore, avoid the temptation
to write generic cover letters. A generic cover letter is obvious because it does not speak directly about your interest
in a specific company and/or position. When a hiring manager reads this type of cover letter he/she assumes you
spent very little time on it and concludes that you are not very interested.
Chapter 6 | Job Search Letters
Guide to Managing Your Career | Wharton MBA Career Management
Over the years, employers have shared the following reasons with MBA Career Management as to why they read
cover letters:
• “First, I like to see if the person can write. I also take note of any misspellings, grammatical errors, etc. I think it
is horrible if the person has not paid attention to detail and has referred to the wrong industry or a different
company in the letter”
• “We read every cover letter and can tell instantly if the applicant has cut and pasted”
• “It is the only way we get the chance to get to know the candidates aside from seeing specific work experiences
– they can tell us their story”
• “I read every cover letter to help me find those few candidates who articulate why they want THIS job. Very
few candidates do this well so it helps me get the pile of applications down to a manageable size”
Ultimately, like most aspects of the job search process, you can anticipate what the hiring manager will do but you
cannot predict it. To that end, while a well written cover letter cannot guarantee an interview, it can bring you one
step closer. A poorly written cover letter, however, can end your candidacy.
Cover Letter Writing Preparation
Here is a step-by-step process for preparing to write cover letters. This process should make your writing effective
and efficient.
STEP 1: Read the job description carefully and take notes on the items you want to reference in the cover letter.
Knowing about the nature of the job is critical to linking you and your past experiences to it
STEP 2: Research the company (and position if defined) to determine their needs and how your skills and
background match up (see Chapter 3). Knowing the industry and company well is key to writing effective job search
STEP 3: Leverage your self-assessment efforts. Determining which details about yourself (e.g. salient skills, strong
interests) to include in your cover letter can help explain why you are a great fit for the position and distinguish you
from other applicants. In addition, employers value people who are self-aware because they know what they want
STEP 4: Make an outline of the specific points you want to cover in the letter. (This will also serve as great
preparation during the interview)
In order to clearly communicate the message you want to send to the hiring manager, plan to write several drafts of
your cover letter.
The Structure of the Cover Letter
Cover letters should follow a simple structure which includes three paragraphs (although four paragraphs are
acceptable). Each paragraph has a specific purpose (discussed in detail on the following page). It is wise to keep
your cover letter to one page. Use caution if you exceed one page, and make sure that you have enough substantial
content to warrant it.
A cover letter is addressed to a specific person. Typically this person’s contact information is included in the job
description. If there is no specific contact listed on the job description, contact the company to identify an
appropriate person to whom to address your letter. Using the greeting “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam” or “Dear
Company Representative” will increase the chance that the cover letter will not be read.
The First Paragraph – Introduction/Summary
The first paragraph serves as a short introduction about you – identify who you are and why you are writing. Be sure
to share all critical details of your application in this paragraph. If the hiring manager only reads one paragraph, it
will be the first one.
When writing this paragraph, be specific and include the following information:
Chapter 6 | Job Search Letters
Guide to Managing Your Career | Wharton MBA Career Management
Who you are
Why you are writing:
− Specify the job title of the position for which you are applying (if you are applying to a particular position).
With large organizations that have many open positions across divisions and functions, it is essential to
indicate to the hiring manager the position for which you want to be considered
− Share why you are contacting the firm. Where did you see the job applications? Was your interest piqued
by a recent article you read? Were you referred by someone?
Why the hiring manager should continue reading:
− Why are you interested in this specific industry, position and company?
− Why should they be interested in you?
1) Do not tell the reader what he or she already knows
− For example, instead of saying, “The consulting industry is one of the fastest growing service
industries in the country and good consultants require strong analytical and problem solving skills. I
have demonstrated these skills through …,” use your knowledge to convince the hiring manager of
your fit with the firm: “I have been successful in high growth and fast-paced environments. This is one
of the reasons that I am interested in your firm. During the take-over of my most recent employer, I
was selected to solve several strategic problems involving…”
2) Be aware of your tone. An attempt to demonstrate knowledge about a specific area can sound preachy.
Focus on what you know about the company in relation to how you fit
Below are a few examples of compelling introductory paragraphs:
Example 1:
“I am a first-year MBA student at the Wharton School with a concentration in Marketing. I am writing to request an
interview for the Brand Management Summer Intern position at XXX. After attending your on-campus information
session and reception and speaking with several team members, including Lauren Doe, Emily Jones and Clark
Smith, I am very excited about the opportunity at XXX. I was especially impressed by XXX’s focus on innovation
and global reach, as well as the enthusiasm of the team. Speaking with several team members at the Wharton
Marketing Conference and the “Day on the Job” I was excited to learn about the new product launch process and
finding new ways to reach consumers via integrated marketing campaigns. I am impressed by XXX’s detailed
knowledge of the consumer and general management focus.”
Example 2:
“After speaking with John Smith and the rest of the XXX team during your campus information session and at the
Wharton Marketing Conference breakfast chats, I was excited to learn that we share a life-long passion for
cosmetics. Communicating that passion to the consumer has been at the heart of my entire career. As a second year
MBA student at Wharton, I would be grateful for the opportunity to apply my previous sales and marketing
experience to XXX’s MBA Associate program. I believe I have a great deal to offer you.”
Example 3:
“I am writing to be considered for your X position. Through discussions with current employees, including Victor
Jones from your XYZ group, I believe that I have the XYZ skills that your group at XXX is seeking. I have long
been interested in the various financial innovations employing fixed income securities because XXXX. This passion,
combined with my banking experience and my strong analytical and quantitative abilities, makes me a strong fit for
your fixed income group.”
The Middle Paragraphs – The Evidence
The middle section offers evidence of what you can bring to the company. Composed of one or two paragraphs, this
is the section where you sell yourself and link your past with your potential future at the company. The content of
this paragraph should:
Chapter 6 | Job Search Letters
Guide to Managing Your Career | Wharton MBA Career Management
Focus on what you can you offer and contribute to the company. Avoid too much discussion about why the
company is good for you and instead focus on why you would be good for the company
Be specific and result-oriented
Emphasize your strengths. Do not discuss your weaknesses, or qualifications mentioned in the job description
that you do not possess. Job descriptions are written for ideal candidates who rarely exist
− Avoid focusing on the negative. Do not say, “Although I do not have any consumer product marketing
experience, I have many of the other qualifications you seek. Through completion of a two year field sales
training program I gained firsthand knowledge of …” Instead say, “Through completion of a two year
field sales training program I gained first-hand knowledge of the intricate links between sales functions and
brand management. This experience … …”
− Expand upon experience in your resume which can clearly demonstrate why you are qualified for this
particular job
Address important questions that your resume cannot answer. Anticipate questions that the hiring manager
might have after reviewing your resume (e.g. “Why did you have an extended period of time during which you
did not work?” or “Why do you want to work in an industry in which you have no or very little experience?”)
1) Avoid repeating exactly what is on your resume (this is not a walk through of your resume) as this does not
help the hiring manager understand the link between your skill set and the company’s needs. Avoid using
the “As you can see from my resume” approach as it is an overused and unnecessary phrase
− Bad Example: “As you can see from the enclosed resume, I worked at XYZ bank for three years and I
am currently a Consulting Manager at Little Rock Consulting Firm. Both of these experiences…”
− Good Example: “While at XYZ bank, I was chosen to participate in a committee charged with
reengineering our 75 member department. This was an invaluable experience that involved …”
2) Avoid the overuse of personal pronouns (“I”, “my”) in the beginning of sentences. Limit the use of “I” by
restructuring the sentences
− Bad Example: “I have eight years in business development in which I increased my company’s client
base by 50%. I have led multiple projects for which I had P & L responsibility and managed up to
twenty people. I also have expertise in accounting systems which I believe will be useful to your
department as you undergo the change in systems that Ms. Manager and I discussed over the phone…”
− Good Example: “While at ABC Corp., I have increased the company’s client base by 50% as Manager
of Business Development. The multiple projects that I have led included P&L responsibility as well as
managing up to twenty people. Additionally, several of the projects I worked on at my previous
employer involved implementing accounting systems, which I understand from John Smith, your
department is about to implement as well.”
Below are a few examples of compelling middle paragraphs:
Example 1:
My passion for consumer products drove me to attend Wharton and transition to a career in Brand Management. I
am excited to pursue a career where I can utilize my strong analytical and interpersonal skills in combination with
my creativity. I am building my marketing knowledge both in and outside of the classroom via active involvement in
the Marketing Club and leadership roles as Logistics Director of the Marketing Conference and Marketing Director
for the Wharton Follies.
I will make a significant contribution to XXXX because of the teamwork, creativity and analytical skills I developed
while working in Financial Services prior to attending Wharton. At the XXXX Private Bank, I analyzed the
investment needs of ultra-high net worth clients and developed innovative models to meet these needs. I can directly
apply this consumer focus to a more diverse array of products. I presented recommendations to clients and worked
with at-risk clients, persuading several to continue their relationships with XXXX. I also trained internal client
teams on analytical models; my efforts resulted in 100% usage of my team’s models within the Private Bank. In
these situations, I combined my analytical and interpersonal skills to win the support of both internal and external
clients. In addition to my above role, I directed a cross-functional model integration team during the Private Bank’s
merger with XXXX. By selecting appropriate models, I ensured that the client teams received the necessary
analytical support to drive the business. My teammates included junior and senior colleagues from model-building,
Chapter 6 | Job Search Letters
Guide to Managing Your Career | Wharton MBA Career Management
client-facing and technology divisions of both XXXX and XXXX. This project required a comprehensive strategic
vision, keen attention to detail, strong communication skills and the ability to engage and excite teams with
competing goals and objectives.
Example 2:
Spending the summer rotating through the trading floor at ABC Investment Bank allowed me to realize that being in
a trading environment with excitement, challenges and learning opportunities is my passion. While an analyst for
Electronic Data Systems, I worked with Credit Suisse First Boston and Deutsche Bank traders and their systems.
Prior to that, at Main Street Bank I worked for the debt-trading desk, capital markets group and investment banking
group. Through these positions I gained substantial knowledge of the securities industry and experience in project
management and business development. The demanding time constraints taught me to work well within a team.
In addition, prior to starting at Wharton, I spent four months trading fulltime for my personal account. With these
experiences, I feel that I have substantial exposure to the markets and their trends and will continue to learn how to
use them to my advantage.
Example 3:
Prior to Wharton, I honed my team leadership, strategy development, and analysis skills while working at XXX
Bank. I managed a project to boost net profits by $70 million per year by identifying dissatisfied customers and
designing solutions to address their concerns. To succeed my team conducted focus groups to understand the reasons
for card member complaints, brainstormed on programs to address these issues, created detailed cost-benefit
analyses of proposed solutions, and ultimately coordinated the various groups necessary to implement our
recommendations. The project required a comprehensive strategic vision, tremendous attention to detail, strong
analytical skills, the ability to clearly communicate ideas, and the ability to mobilize groups with different agendas
towards a common objective. I believe these skills would allow me to contribute to Company ABC by developing,
analyzing, and implementing the next generation of business strategies.
Example 4:
I believe I have a great deal to offer you.
• Strategic Thinking. At XXX Company, I initiated a repositioning strategy for the brand with the intent to
expand distribution of the primarily private-label dress line to higher-margin department and specialty stores.
Through self-directed business-to-business marketing initiatives, including catalogue development, direct mail
and email campaigns, trade shows, and product placement, I increased sales 47% in one year, and was promoted
from an Account Executive to Sales & Marketing Manager.
• Understanding the Consumer. Addressing customer desires through product development has been crucial to
my success as a marketer. Collaborating closely with the design and production departments at XXXX, I
ensured the creation of a cohesive brand image that served the needs of our target customer. My psychology
background was helpful in analyzing buyer’s needs and translating customer responses into merchandise plans
for future seasons.
• Creativity. Experiencing the exhilaration of creativity and innovation is a constant part of my life, whether
designing jewelry or catalogues, learning new dance forms, or painting. At XXXX, I faced the daunting task of
revitalizing the corporation after the events of September 11th sent sales plummeting. Evaluating the situation
and thinking outside the box, I overhauled the company’s payment structure, placed all employees on straight
commission, and invested two weeks in extensive sales training. Within six months, sales figures exceeded
those of the entire previous year.
• Entrepreneurial Mindset. As a freshman in college, I launched my own company, the XXXX, by transforming a
neighborhood pool concession stand area into a café hot-spot. Innovative menu items and décor made this
ordinary venture extraordinary. An entrepreneurial approach continued to fuel my career, as I purposely sought
opportunities which enabled me to occupy multi-functional and cross-departmental roles. Working in an
industry marked by fluid consumer tastes strengthened my ability to manage uncertainty.
Chapter 6 | Job Search Letters
Guide to Managing Your Career | Wharton MBA Career Management
Example 5:
The pharmaceutical sales and marketing strategy insights I gained from health care consulting will enable me to
make immediate and lasting contributions to ABC Division’s brand management teams. During my tenure at
Consulting Firm Y, I assisted executives at Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies in devising innovative, multichannel sales and marketing strategies. By leveraging my creativity and analytical skills, I enabled my clients to
differentiate themselves from their competition and enhance physician penetration and reach. My strong
communication skills will also be valuable in crafting physician messaging and internally sharing information with
my Company X teammates. This skill was recognized by upper management at Consulting Firm Y, as I was selected
to lead firm-wide training on presentation crafting and storyboarding. Lastly, my initiative in developing a corporate
knowledge sharing system at Consulting Firm Y reshaping ABC Pharmaceutical’s training and vendor qualification
system, and serving on the Wharton MBA Curriculum Advisory Board demonstrate my leadership and involvement
in continued enhancement of the environments where I have worked and studied.
As illustrated above, this middle section of the cover letter can be in paragraph form or in the form of carefully
constructed bullets.
The Last Paragraph – The Conclusion / Next Steps
The last paragraph of the cover letter reiterates your interest in the firm/position and discusses next steps. Let the
hiring manager know what action you are expecting and what action the hiring manager should expect from you. If
you are seeking employment in a city where you do not live and you are planning a trip there, this is the place to
mention those details. Finally, make sure to thank the hiring manager for considering you and let him/her know you
look forward to future communication.
1) Be sure to always include your name, telephone and email address on your cover letter (either in this last
paragraph or as a header to your letter) so that if your resume gets separated from your cover letter, the
hiring manager will still be able to contact you
Below are a few examples of compelling last paragraphs:
Example 1:
I have the educational background, academic achievement, practical experience, and passion to be an outstanding
member of your team. I hope that you will find me well qualified for this position and I would like to reiterate my
strong interest to discuss this opportunity and my qualifications with you further. I look forward to meeting you
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Example 2:
I am already a life-long XXXX consumer, but wish to become a long-term member of the XXXX team. I look
forward to the opportunity to discuss my interest in greater detail. I can be reached at 215-XXX-XXXX or
[email protected]
Example 3:
With my penchant for producing tangible results and my enthusiasm for tackling tough issues, I am confident that I
can make significant contributions to Company ABC. I hope that you find my background and experience a good fit
for your company, and I ask that you include me in your upcoming full-time interview schedule.
I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Chapter 6 | Job Search Letters
Guide to Managing Your Career | Wharton MBA Career Management
Cover Letter Revision Process
After writing your cover letter take the time to carefully re-read it and ask yourself the following questions:
So what? Everything you write in a cover letter should have a purpose. Re-read each sentence. If there is no
significance to what you have written, consider rewriting or omitting it
Is the letter easy to read? Is the critical information included in the first paragraph?
Does the letter tell my whole life story? Is there too much personal information included?
Does the letter simply repeat my resume?
Have I eliminated all vague or unnecessary words/information?
Have I chosen the best words to represent my thoughts? Is the language full of clichés? Make sure the language
is on point, crisp and professional
Are there any spelling, grammatical and formatting errors?
After you make revisions, utilize colleagues and friends to help you review/edit your cover letter. Seek feedback
from people who know very little about your background (and ideally have experience in the industry/function you
plan to go into), and ask them to read and provide feedback on your cover letter.
If you are not a native English speaker and are applying for a position in the United States, it is critical to have a
native English speaker read and proofread your cover letter for any errors – large or small.
Why are Thank You Notes Important?
Thank you notes are written to express your gratitude and appreciation for an interview, a networking meeting, a
conversation, a referral, an internship experience, etc. Effective thank you notes are brief but sincere, detailed and
personable. Thank you notes are a standard part of the process. Sending one indicates sincere interest in the position.
If you met with multiple people during a visit to a firm, you should send a thank you note to each person.
Some people feel that thank you notes will not be read (and therefore are not important). While it is highly unlikely
you will be eliminated from consideration for sending a note, you could be eliminated for not sending one. Failure to
send a thank you note reflects poorly on you and discourages that person from giving you their time in the future.
Leveraging the Thank You Note
1) Be genuine and not generic in this effort. Take notes immediately after the interview or networking
conversation so your note can reference specific topics discussed. Including specific details shows that you
remember the conversation and are interested in the position. In addition, it also serves to remind the reader
who you are and what experiences/qualifications you bring to the position
2) Send the thank you note within 24 hours after the meeting/conversation
3) Be concise. Include substantial content in your correspondence, but do it effectively
4) Consider sending a hand written note in the mail. While email is the standard means of communication,
mailing a professional, well written thank you card can be an effective way to differentiate yourself and
impress the employer. That said, be aware of specific situations (e.g. specific industries or countries) where
this may not be appropriate
5) Avoid asking the most senior level person to thank his/her staff for you. Do not write thank you letters to
senior people and ignore junior people. Never make assumptions about how much power a person has in
the decision to hire you
Chapter 6 | Job Search Letters
Guide to Managing Your Career | Wharton MBA Career Management
Below are a few examples of compelling thank you notes:
Example 1: Send to Hiring Manager
Dear Mr. XXXX,
Thank you for taking the time to discuss the summer internship opportunity at ABC Company with me. After
meeting with you and Bob Smith, I am further convinced that my XXXX background and analytical skills coincide
well with your needs.
I appreciate the time you took to acquaint me with the company. Based on conversations with your team about
XXXX, I feel that joining ABC Company will be an ideal step in my career. In addition to my qualifications and
experience, I will bring XXXX and XXXX to this position.
I look forward to hearing from you. Again, thank you for your time and consideration.
Example 2: Send to Alum
Dear XXXX,
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me about your experiences in the XXX field. You were extremely
thorough in explaining your career progression and current trends in the XXX industry. I appreciate your advice on
how I can best position myself to meet my long-term career goals.
As you recommended, I will contact John Smith about XXXX. After our conversation, I will be sure to keep you
posted on my progress.
Again, thank you for your time. If there is anything I can do for you in the future, please do not hesitate to let me
After reading this chapter (as well as Chapter 2 on self-assessment, Chapter 3 on market research and Chapter 5 on
resume development) you should feel confident in your ability to write effective job search letters. The time
commitment required to write effective communications with an employer is worthwhile. It is now time for you to
start applying for specific job opportunities. While you are waiting to hear back from applications you submitted,
start preparing for the interviews (see Chapter 7).
Recommended Reading
• 175 High-Impact Cover Letters (Richard H. Beatty)
• 200 Letters for Job Hunters (William S. Frank)
• Cover Letters That Knock 'em Dead (Martin Yate)
Websites and Online Subscriptions
• About – sample cover letters (
• Career Resumes (
• CareerBuilder – cover letter advice (
• Quint Careers (
• Wall Street Journal – thank you letters and emailed cover letters (
Chapter 6 | Job Search Letters
Guide to Managing Your Career | Wharton MBA Career Management
On the Wharton MBA Career Management Website
• Sample Job Search Letters
• Vault Career Library
• WetFeet Insider Guides
Sample Cover Letter Format
Your Name
Your Street Address
City, State, Zip
Employer’s Name
Street Address
City, State, Zip
Dear Mr. or Ms. Last Name:
Your opening paragraph should briefly introduce you and your interest in the company. If you are aware of a
specific position or opening, refer to it now. This paragraph should also be used to mention the names of individuals
you have met from the company (e.g., at the EIS, company event or other networking event), or the individual who
directed you to this person. Cite other research that prompted you to write, such as a recent article on the company
or a positive networking interaction. The last line in this paragraph should give a summary statement of who you are
and why you are a strong fit for the position.
Your middle paragraph(s) should consist of specific examples from your background that would be of greatest
interest to the company and consequently create the “notion of fit.” Do not just make broad generalizations about
your skill set – any assertions about your skills have to be backed up with specific examples of how/why you have
developed those skills. Focus on your skills and accomplishments and how they could contribute to the company,
but do not simply restate what is on your resume. Demonstrate what you know about the organization and the
industry. If you are a career changer, it is essential to clearly state your transferable skills from previous experience
that directly relate to the skills required for the position in which you are interested.
Your closing paragraph is your summation and should outline the key next steps. For example, state that you would
like to discuss employment opportunities or other information with the person and that you plan on contacting them
on a specific date. If the company has a specific position available, ask for an opportunity to interview. Thank the
addressee for his or her time and consideration. Include your telephone and email address in case the cover letter
gets separated from your resume.
Your Name
Enclosure(s) (If you send resume or other materials.)
Chapter 6 | Job Search Letters