A cover letter has several purposes – to identify the position to which you are applying, to convince the employer why they should invite you to an interview, and to inform the employer how you will follow-up. Your cover letter should answer the question, “Why should you hire me?”.
Cover Letter Do's:
Be concise and clear in your request. Keep your letter to one page.
Demonstrate confidence - use words such as “confident", “certain", and “positive” rather than “think", “feel", & “believe".
Make sure the overall tone is quite upbeat and enthusiastic.
Show that you have taken time to research the company and the position and that you have put effort into your letter.
Demonstrate that you meet or exceed the requirements of the position.
Use several short paragraphs (consider using bullet points in the middle section) - it makes your cover letter easier to read.
Personalize your letter by addressing it to the appropriate contact person, either the employer or a human resources officer. Use their name and title, and double-check the spelling.
Proofread your letter and ask someone else to read it as well. Use your cover letter as an example of your written communication skills.
Cover Letter Don'ts:
Repeat your resume in your cover letter.
Send a resume by regular mail without a covering letter.
Use the same cover letter to apply to every position.
Standard Format For a Cover Letter
Address & Contact Information
(Your personal letterhead from your resume)
Contact’s Name Contact’s Title Organization Name Street Address City, Province, Postal Code
Salutation i.e. Dear Mr./Ms. (Last Name only):
First Paragraph: (2 -4 sentences)
Indicate why you are writing.
Tell how you heard about the position/employer and why you are interested in it.
Mention the position to which you are applying.
Insert a brief sentence that gives your degree, major, university, and graduation date.
If you have a contact, mention that person here.
A brief statement about why you would fit the position.
Middle Section: (can be 1 or 2 paragraphs)
Demonstrate that you have done some research about this organization.
Describe what you have to offer to the employer. Focus on what you can do for them rather than why you want the position.
Connect their needs and your skills and/or experiences. Highlight your most significant accomplishments, abilities, and experiences that are specifically relevant to the employer and job requirements. This is the section that will make the reader want to learn more, leading them to your resume.
Use this section to portray confidence in your ability to succeed in the position.
Thank the employer for considering your application.
If you need to explain anything out of the ordinary on your resume, this is the place to do it.
Express your desire to meet at an interview in the near future.
Make it clear what happens next - How will you will follow-up?
Complementary Close (i.e. Sincerely)
Your Signature (if mailing a copy) - leave 4 blank lines for this
Your Name (typed)
Western Students' Cover Letter Examples
The majority of cover letters included below represent actual documents of real students who have been offered an interview.