Top Cover Letter Tips


  • Create a tailored cover letter for each job you apply to
  • Your cover letter should emphasize the specific abilities, talents, skills and accomplishments that make you the ideal candidate for that particular position
  • Use variety in your sentence structure and use action words in your statements
  • Review your cover letter for spelling and grammatical errors and consider having someone at the SECC review your job search documents

Organization / Layout

  • Keep your cover letter to one page and single spaced
  • Ensure that your contact information (including your name, address, telephone number and email address) is listed at the top of the page
  • We recommend that you use a reference line (RE: ) to clearly indicate the purpose of the letter; this line can include the job title, location and competition number or position inquiry
  • It is very important to tailor your cover letter to a specific person or company rather than sending out a generic letter; if you are not able to find the name of the contact person, you may address your letter to “Human Resources”, “Hiring Committee” or “Selection Committee”; avoid addressing your letter “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”
  • Your letter should include one introductory paragraph, one to two main body paragraphs and one closing paragraph

Format / Design

  • If you are having trouble keeping your cover letter to one page, consider using narrower margins or choosing smaller line spacing
  • Use a common font style (Calibri, Times New Roman, 11 or 12 point size), throughout your document
  • Be sure to include your electronic signature as this allows you to author your work

Social Media and Your Job Search

  • Consider creating a LinkedIn profile which allows you to essentially upload your resume and connect with professionals locally and around the world
  • For tips on how to build a professional student LinkedIn profile check out Leverage LinkedIn


Know Yourself and Your Audience

  • Can you comfortably articulate your values, skills, abilities and interests as they relate to job search documents? (If not, consider Taking a Career Assessment!)
  • Did you perform an adequate amount of research on the prospective employer?

Production and Format

  • Is your cover letter limited to one page?
  • Did you use a reference line (RE:) to indicate which position you are applying for rather than re-stating the position in the first paragraph?
  • Did you grab the reader’s attention by explaining why their organization appeals to you in the first paragraph?
  • If a reference suggested you apply for the position, did you mention his or her name in the first paragraph?
  • In the second paragraph, did you communicate your strengths and skills as they relate to the job posting?

Proofread and Critique Your Letter

  • Have you reviewed your document for spelling and grammar errors?
  • Were you concise and to the point in your cover letter?
  • Did you include your electronic signature?

Sending Your Letter

  • Did you create an original letter for each employer rather than sending a mass produced copy?
  • When sending your letter electronically, did you attach your cover letter and resume as one document , include a clear subject line and write a brief introductory message in the email body that references your attached document?
  • Have you been keeping track of what positions and organizations you have applied to so that you can follow up with the employers you have sent correspondence to?

Additional Letters

  • Within two days of an interview or meeting, did you send out thank you correspondence to the employers?
  • Have you written a letter of declination if you do not wish to accept a position that you’ve been offered?

Cover Letter

The cover letter should highlight your resume by identifying how you are qualified for the position. Be sure to tailor your cover letter to the position for which you are applying, linking your qualifications with the job description and/or qualifications requested by the employer. A cover letter should be no longer than one page in length and written in a standard business format that aligns all the information to the left margin. 

Networking Letter

A networking letter is often used to generate an informational meeting, which allows you to obtain job search advice in a specific career area. Clearly state in the letter that you are seeking information and advice regarding the profession or organization, and not asking for a job/position. Take initiative by suggesting a future meeting and stating that you will call for an appointment. If a referral has been made, mention the person who referred you (in your opening paragraph) and provide a brief summary of your career path/background.