Writing Cover Letters
What is a cover letter? What to include in a cover letter How to organize a cover letter Questions to guide your writing How to format a cover letter Sample cover letters
What is a cover letter?
To be considered for almost any position, you will need to write a letter of application. Such a letter introduces you, explains your purpose for writing, highlights a few of your experiences or skills, and requests an opportunity to meet personally with the potential employer.
Precisely because this letter is your introduction to an employer and because first impressions count, you should take great care to write an impressive and effective letter. Remember that the letter not only tells of your accomplishments but also reveals how effectively you can communicate.
The appropriate content, format, and tone for application letters vary according to the position and the personality of the applicant. Thus, you will want to ask several people (if possible) who have had experience in obtaining jobs or in hiring in your field to critique a draft of your letter and to offer suggestions for revision.
Despite the differences in what constitutes a good application letter, the suggestions on these pages apply generally.
What to include in a cover letter
- Try to limit your letter to a single page. Be succinct.
- Assess the employer’s needs and your skills. Then try to match them in the letter in a way that will appeal to the employer’s self-interest.
- As much as possible, tailor your letter to each job opportunity. Demonstrate, if possible, some knowledge of the organization to which you are applying.
- Write in a style that is mature but clear; avoid long and intricate sentences and paragraphs; avoid jargon. Use action verbs and the active voice; convey confidence, optimism, and enthusiasm coupled with respect and professionalism.
- Show some personality, but avoid hard-sell, gimmicky, or unorthodox letters. Start fast; attract interest immediately. For more information see Business Letter Format .
- Arrange the points in a logical sequence; organize each paragraph around a main point.
How to organize a cover letter
Below is one possible way to arrange the content of your cover letter.
State why you are writing.
Establish a point of contact (advertisement in a specific place for a specific position; a particular person’s suggestion that you write): give some brief idea of who you are (a Senior engineering student at UW; a recent Ph.D. in History).
Highlight a few of the most salient points from your enclosed resume.
Arouse your reader’s curiosity by mentioning points that are likely to be important for the position you are seeking.
Show how your education and experience suit the requirements of the position, and, by elaborating on a few points from your resume, explain what you could contribute to the organization.
(Your letter should complement, not restate, your resume.)
Stress action. Politely request an interview at the employer’s convenience.
Indicate what supplementary material is being sent under separate cover and offer to provide additional information (a portfolio, a writing sample, a sample publication, a dossier, an audition tape), and explain how it can be obtained.
Thank the reader for his/her consideration and indicate that you are looking forward to hearing from him/her.
Questions to guide your writing
- Who is my audience?
- What is my objective?
- What are the objectives and needs of my audience?
- How can I best express my objective in relationship to my audience’s objectives and needs?
- What specific benefits can I offer to my audience and how can I best express them?
- What opening sentence and paragraph will grab the attention of my audience in a positive manner and invite them to read further?
- How can I maintain and heighten the interest and desire of the reader throughout the letter?
- What evidence can I present of my value to my audience?
- If a resume is enclosed with the letter, how can I best make the letter advertise the resume?
- What closing sentence or paragraph will best assure the reader of my capabilities and persuade him or her to contact me for further information?
- Is the letter my best professional effort?
*From Ronald L. Kraunich, William J. Bauis. High Impact Resumes & Letters. Virginia Beach, VA: Impact Publications, 1982.
How to format a cover letter
- Type each letter individually, or use a word processor.
- Use good quality bond paper.
- Whenever possible, address each employer by name and title.
- Each letter should be grammatically correct, properly punctuated, and perfectly spelled. It also should be immaculately clean and free of errors. Proofread carefully!
- Use conventional business correspondence form. If you are not certain of how to do this, ask for help at the Writing Center.
Sample cover letters
Looking at examples of strong cover letters is a great way to understand how this advice can become implemented. We’ve compiled and annotated a range of different kinds of cover letters from different kinds of student applicants. We encourage you to look through these letters and see some of what we’ve highlighted as working particularly well in these real world examples.
- Cover Letter Example 1. Undergraduate student applying for a restaurant hosting position.
- Cover Letter Example 2. Undergraduate sophomore applying for an internship with a non-profit, political organization.
- Cover Letter Example 3. Graduate student applying for a Project Assistant position at UW-Madison. The original job posting for this position can be found here .
- Cover Letter Example 4. A graduated student with an English literature and Spanish language double major applying to work as a law firm legal assistant.
In addition to these sample cover letters, you can find a range of other, often discipline-specific cover letter examples through these UW-Madison resources:
- SuccessWorks has developed a useful resource that features an overview of cover letters. It provides a breakdown of this genre’s main parts as well as an example cover letter and resume, all in response to an included job posting for a position with Americas Society Council of the Americas. All of this is located here .
- UW-Madison’s Law School has nine wonderful examples of cover letters for law-related jobs here . These are organized according how far the applicants were into their law school careers (i.e., L1, L2, and L3).
- The Career Center for the School of Education has information about cover letters as well as sample cover letter for someone applying to be an elementary school teacher here .
- The School of Human Ecology has several sample cover letters with their accompanying job posting. These include cover letters written in pursuit of positions in both the nonprofit and retail sector. You can find these examples here .
Academic and Professional Writing
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Assignment Editor Cover Letter Examples
Assignment editors work for news organizations in a variety of media (print, online, TV, or radio) and delegate story and news coverage to specific reporters. Common work responsibilities performed in this role include generating story ideas, creating staff schedules, writing and editing content, maintaining strong relationships with outside groups and agencies, and updating breaking-news stories – all while excelling under pressure and strict deadlines. Superior technical proficiencies and expertise in journalistic best practices and standards are all mandatory in this role. Additionally, the ability to motivate, mentor, and supervise reporters is integral to success as an assignment editor.
Need a cover letter format? Here are 3 types of cover letter formats to choose from.
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Don't send your resume without a cover letter. Find out how to create a professional cover letter in our guide.
Include These Assignment Editor Skills
- News coverage assignment and delegation
- Daily newsroom supervision
- News briefings and updates
- Story research and development
- Staff schedule management
- Writing, editing, and proofreading
- Relationship building and networking
- Team meeting leadership
- Information delivery and dissemination
- Source cultivation and development
- News producer and reporter communications
Please find below a sample cover letter indicating similar abilities, qualifications, and experience for an assignment editor.
Dear Mr. Horsley:
Upon review of your posting for an assignment editor to join your team at The Oakview Herald, I felt compelled to submit my resume for your consideration. As a dedicated news and communications professional with experience covering and assigning news and current events stories for reputable news publications, I am confident that I could outperform your expectations for this role.
My background lies in researching and assigning stories, editing article submissions, writing print and web articles, and motivating staff to produce energizing news content that can induce audience attention and invigorate participation and interest in current affairs. From generating new story ideas and delegating tasks to updating social media pages and networking with outside groups and agencies, I excel at facilitating all aspects of news information delivery through outstanding leadership and management talents.
Consider the following highlights of my qualifications:
Coordinating, assigning, and directing news, story, and article writing and coverage for up to 110 reporters for newspapers including The Gainesburg Gazette and Weekly Willamette while analyzing feedback to ensure superior reader experiences
Leading dynamic staff meetings to brainstorm story ideas, determine story coverage, assign articles to writers, and coordinate photographers and news choppers appropriately
Keeping staff up to date on all breaking news stories and assignments; posting online news updates throughout the day on evolving stories
Proofreading and editing news copy to ensure flawless grammar and composition as well as compliance with all ethical and legal guidelines
Maintaining a first-rate level of knowledge and expertise in national news topics, current events, local news, and cultural and global affairs
Demonstrating excellent writing and time management skills, as well as the ability to excel within high-pressure, deadline-driven environments
Earning a bachelor of arts in journalism from New York University in 2005
With my proven experience in spearheading the composition, assignment, and delivery of news and information – along with my tireless devotion to encouraging public involvement in cultural and political issues – I am positioned to significantly contribute to your team at The Oakview Herald. I look forward to discussing the position and my qualifications further.
Thank you for your consideration.
Laura K. Manges
A professional cover letter is the first step toward your new job!
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Resume and Cover Letter Class Assignment
We greatly appreciate faculty efforts to incorporate career readiness into their courses. To support our students and alumni who have time-sensitive career needs, we ask that faculty wishing to incorporate a resume or cover letter assignment into their courses follow the procedures below. This process has been established to help us ensure that all TXST students and alumni are receiving quality and timely feedback on their application materials.
Fill out the Resume and Cover Letter Class Assignment Request form . Career center staff will email instructors within two business days to confirm details and timeline of the review process.
Create an assignment in Canvas to collect student materials. All documents should be submitted as either Microsoft Word or PDF documents.
Download all submitted documents as a ZIP file from Canvas and email that file to [email protected] .
Reviewed documents will be emailed directly to students at the email address provided on their resume. Depending on the size of the class, it may take between 3-10 business days for career center staff to complete reviews.
We encourage course instructors request a class presentation from our office prior to the submission deadline to provide best practices for resume/cover letter creation. If a class presentation cannot be accommodated due to scheduling concerns, resources related to resume and cover letter creation may be found on our website under quick guides . We also suggest instructors who would like to see the proof of edits make a second assignment on Canvas to collect the edited resumes from students.
Please email us at [email protected] or call our office at 512-245-2645 with any questions.
Bring 2 paper copies (typed) to class for peer review AND submit an electronic copy via. Canvas by the due date. All assignments should be free of typos and
What to include in a cover letter · Try to limit your letter to a single page. · Assess the employer's needs and your skills. · As much as possible, tailor your
TIME REQUIRED: 45 minutes. NOTE: A block period would allow students the opportunity to draft a letter and get initial feedback while in the classroom. LESSON
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You are welcome to bring your cover letter and resume to class at any time should you require help from your teacher. Use the CHRONOLOGICAL RESUME TEMPLATE or
Write three sentences that describe what you've learned in college (in classes, clubs, your major, etc…) • Write a few sentences describing skills you've
This hands-on career and college readiness assignment helps students create a cover letter using current industry trends for professional, stylish
Using an actual job listing from a company in your area of interest, you will create a job application letter and a resume. For the assignment
Resume and Cover Letter Class Assignment. We greatly appreciate faculty efforts to incorporate career readiness into their courses. To support our students