MBA Career Services Center Cover Letter Tutorial

MBA Career Services Center
Cover Letter Tutorial
This power point presentation will:
•Define the purpose of a cover letter
•Describe how to differentiate a cover letter
•Outline a good structure
•Describe what each paragraph should contain
•Outline when to submit one and why
•Share what recruiters say about cover letters
•Provide additional resources
Updated February 2007
Purpose of a Cover Letter
Your cover letter is a document that…
• convinces the reader to look at your enclosed or attached resume
• makes a sales pitch that matches your skill sets and qualifications to
is specific and customized to each job
• demonstrates your knowledge of the industry, company, and position
• that outlines how your career interests fit with the specific company or
Differentiates yourself:
• Sample Cover Letters are not provided in this tutorial because recruiters
DO NOT like to see similar letters from all candidates at the same school. If
you want to see some sample letters, please make an appointment with Dr.
Liz Bain (see last page).
• Additionally, each cover letter needs to be unique for each candidate.
• Do not establish a template cover letter. Start from scratch with each letter
you write.
Good Cover Letter Structure
Major sections*:
Heading: your name, address, telephone, email address
(2 spaces)
(2 spaces)
Inside Address: Name, Title, Department/Office (if
applicable), Street/Office Address, City, State, Zip of
person letter is written to.
(2 spaces)
Salutation: Dear (Mr., Mrs., Mrs. or Dr. last name), only use
first name if correct salutation not known) As a last
resort, use “To whom It May Concern,” “Hiring Manager,
” or “Corporate Recruiter” but this is not recommended.
Body of letter includes 3 separate, distinct paragraphs.
Closing: Sincerely, your first and last name
Bottom: “enclosure” (Encl.) or “attachment” (Attach.)
*center text from bottom to top
Structural image:
Paragraph One
• Opening Sentence: Grab reader’s attention with what you can
specifically contribute and give depth of company knowledge.
• Show passion and enthusiasm for the position and company.
• State purpose for writing (to read your resume and obtain
• Creatively communicate your current student status (i.e., first or
second year)
• Begin to match your skills, abilities, experiences with the position
(in one sentence).
Paragraph Two*
• Note: *Your RESUME must be complete and written competitively so you can better
define what you are selling in the cover letter.
• Convince the reader with evidence why you should get an
interview. This is where you prove what you stated in first
paragraph about your skills, experiences and knowledge.
• Match skills the position is seeking with examples in S.T.A.R.
format from work or academic experiences--pick top 2-3. The
strongest appeal will come from your examples or stories.
• Example: “While at Aerospace Systems I was deeply involved with the
strategic planning process, particularly with systems and technology
issues. Consulting with diverse vendors of technology I had many
opportunities to achieve significant results for the vendor as well as my
own firm. In managing these vendors, I coordinated the entire project, from
initial negotiation through project completion.”
Paragraph Three
2 sentences only:
• Come full circle and reiterate your desire to interview. Convey your
enthusiasm and eagerness. Don’t make statements about how well
you fit for “the job”—as you are still in the stage of trying to obtain
the interview.
• Bring closure with a summary statement.
• Example: “Thank you for this opportunity to introduce myself. It
would be my pleasure to share more about my experiences and
how they match with (XY position at AB company) in an interview.”
When to send and how
• It will be rare to send a cover letter hard copy through the mail or fax.
Cover letters will most often be sent via email as attachments or as part of
the body of the email message.
• When applying through eRecruiting and it is not specifically listed that a
cover letter is required, do not include one.
If it states, “Cover Letter Required-YES,” then always include one, of
• When applying through a company’s website, always include one.
Depending on the venue for submitting your resume, you may have to
include the “cover letter” in the body of an email message to a general
email address, like [email protected]
• When attaching your resume for consideration to a specific contact you
have, for a specific job posting, you may include your cover letter in the
body of the email—not as a separate attachment. Some postings may
define specifically which is preferred.
What Recruiters say about Cover Letters
“The cover letter should not be memorable for the wrong reasons, like
“…candidates can be eliminated from interview consideration because of
gross errors in the salutation/address (wrong company) or because of poor
quality writing or content.”
“…use the cover letter to see of the candidate’s intent.”
“…look for professionalism in writing and goals and objectives, and I prefer
to receive via email.”
“…look for specific experiences that are highlighted.”
“…to see if candidate did company research.”
“Cover letters provide great insight into communication skills.”
“…look for differentiating factors like, proper grammar, or correct spelling of
“The cover letter should be short and to-the-point.”
“Cover letters are simply used to review writing skills.”
Additional Resources
Functional portfolio with keywords:
Cover Letter Writing Help Worksheet:
Good article on cover letter writing:
Dr. Elizabeth Bain, Faculty Advisor to the MBA Program at
[email protected] or 355-7604 If you want to see specific examples of
cover letters, or if you have never written a cover letter, please come in
to the office for an appointment, as this is the best way to learn.