Indiana University

Indiana University Journalism

Cover Letters

A cover letter is a professional document that tells your interest in a particular position, highlights your qualifications and introduces your resumé. It should accompany your resumé whenever you are submitting your application materials to an employer, whether by regular mail or e-mail. Your cover letter is just as important as your resumé. It also is a sample of your writing. 

Your cover letter should be: 

  • Targeted and tailored for each position you are applying for, not mass-produced. Mass produced generic cover letters addressed to To Whom it May Concern or Human Resources Manager will get about as much response as mail addressed to Occupant. Occasionally you have no choice but to use a general heading if you are responding to a blind job want ad that does not list a company name or address. In that case, the employer knows you have no choice.
  • Personalized to the individual you will most likely be interviewing with (whenever possible)
  • Accurate, error free, energetic, enthusiastic and concise
  • Produced on high quality bond stationery that matches your resumé paper
  • Signed by you

Also, don’t forget to:

  • Match your cover letter and resumé paper
  • Follow up as you specified in your cover letter

Outline of a Cover Letter 

Your address
City, state, zip
Date

Name of contact person
Title
Organization
Street address
City, state, zip

Dear (contact person),

Opening Paragraph: Why writing? Capture interest!

  • Strong opening sentences to make the reader want to continue reading.
  • Name the job for which you are applying. Tell how you learned about it.
  • Mention the name of a person (if any) who referred you to the organization.

Body Paragraph: Critical content section. Convince the reader of your skills.

  • Acknowledge the skills required by the open position.
  • State the skills/strengths you will bring to the job and that parallel those needed to fill the position.
  • Give examples of skills and achievements and how they will transfer to the job.
  • Comment on your knowledge of the company (its products, services or special projects) and why you are interested in working for it.

Closing Paragraph: Ask for interview and identify next step!

  • Refer to enclosed resumé.
  • Tell the contact person that you will call on a designated date. Also, state that you are available for a personal interview at her/his convenience.
  • Make it easy for the person to contact you: list your phone number and times you can be reached. Even if it is on the resumé, list it here again.

Sincerely, (Respectfully, etc.)

(sign your name)
Your name typed

Enclosures: resumé
(work samples, transcript?)