Cover Letters

Functions of a Cover Letter

  • Tells the employer what type of position you are seeking
  • Gives you an opportunity to impress the prospective employer by showcasing your knowledge about the company and/or its industry and express how your skills, interests, and/or experience, match the needs of the organization
  • Entices the reader to learn more about you by reading your resume
  • Provides or expands your resume objective and shows how well you express yourself
  • Serves as a small window into your personality that makes the employer feel he or she simply must get to know you better

Types of Cover Letters

  • The Application Letter is written in response to any position opening that is advertised or listed to apply for a specific job opening.
  • The Letter of Interest is written to the hiring manager of a company inquiring about possible job opportunities, even if they have not been advertised and might not even be available yet.
  • The Referral Cover Letter is used to mention that a colleague, contact, or someone else you know recommended you apply for the job.  Hiring managers and recruiters are more likely to take a closer looks at candidates who were referred by someone they know.  Be sure to mention the individual who referred you by name and also mention your connection with this person.

Salary Requirements

Many job postings ask you to include your salary history or your salary requirements when applying for the position. First of all, if the ad doesn't mention it, don't offer any salary information. If at all possible, you want the prospective employer to bring up the issue of compensation first.  Employers request salary information for various reasons. If your salary is too high, they can screen you out because they don't want to pay that much or because they think you won't be happy working for less money. If your current salary is lower than the company was planning to pay, they may offer you a lower salary.  You could consider putting “Competitive” as your salary history, unless the application asks for specific salary dollars.

When stating your salary requirements, you could say they are open or negotiable based upon the position and the overall total compensation package, including benefits. Another alternative is to include a range, based on the salary research you've done, i.e. my salary requirement is in the $35,000 - $45,000 range. It’s important to make sure the range is realistic.

Examples of statements are as follows:

  • My salary requirement is negotiable based upon the job responsibilities and the total compensation package.
  • Being a recent college graduate, I have not established a salary history. However, in researching the field, the average salary for my skill set and the position for which you are recruiting is between
  • My current salary is $65,000, but I am willing to negotiate if that is out of the hiring range for this position.

How to Write a Great Cover Letter

  • Include your contact information in the top right hand corner.  Put your name in bold and or larger font to let employers immediately know who you are.
  • Include the date you are submitting the letter.
  • Address the letter to the contact person/department/company from the job posting.  If possible, call the company and ask for the name of the person responsible for hiring the position you are applying for, or ask for the name of the Human Resources Manager and address the letter to them.
First (Introductory) Paragraph:

Tells the employer: “This is what I want to do!  This is why I want to do it with you!”

Introduce yourself, mention the position you are applying for and how you heard about it.  Demonstrate you have done your homework on the company/organization; know who they are, what they do, and how good they are to determine what you can do to make them better. Indicate in a sentence or two what you know about that company. Convey your excitement for the opportunity to be a part of their organization and that you really believe you have the qualifications they are seeking.  Then explain that this is why you would like to introduce yourself.

Second (Marketing) Paragraph:

Tells the employer: “This is what I can do for you!  This is why I am the best candidate for the position!”

Inform the employer of the degree you have obtained and give details about your background and experience, specifically the experience highlighted on your resume.  Match your skills and qualifications with the ones that are required and preferred in the job description. Give specific examples of accomplishments that demonstrate your ability to meet the needs of the employer.  This proves that you will be successful at the position you are applying to.  Use keywords relevant to the job posting and the industry.  Remember to keep all information relevant to the position you are applying to. Refer the reader to the enclosed resume, which will give additional information concerning your background and experience.

Third (Closing) Paragraph:

Tells the employer: “I want an interview!  This is what I am willing to do to get it!”

Close by saying you would like to meet with the employer to further discuss your qualifications, the company/organization, or the position.  State when you are available for interview and provide the easiest way to contact you to set up a meeting.  If you would like to initiate the next step, you can mention that you will follow up in a certain amount of time to determine if the employer has any questions and to set up a personal interview.  This is not required, only say you will do this if you actually intend to follow up! If you do call, tell the secretary that the employer is expecting your call.  End by saying you look forward to hearing from them.

If you intend to print out your cover letter and hand it to someone, leave room between your closing and your printed name for your signature.