Skip to content

How to prepare a cover letter

A cover letter is a strong personal communication between a prospective employer and a job applicant. It is usually the first letter you send or transmit electronically to an employer, and it should be accompanied by a resume. It should leave the employer with a clear impression of your credentials and should encourage the reader to review your resume.

It is probably the most important letter you will write, so be enthusiastic.

The purpose of the cover letter is to draw attention to your qualifications which will result in an interview. You must get the reader's attention not only by what you say but by how well you say it. Since the letter demonstrates your communication and writing abilities, express yourself logically, concisely and confidently. Be sure to write error free.

  • The cover letter should not duplicate the information on your resume. Rather, it should highlight your major achievements and show how your qualifications relate to the position for which you are applying.

  • Each cover letter should be typed individually, addressed to the person who is doing the hiring, and targeted to the position and the needs of that company. It should be three to four paragraphs on one page. Do not use a form letter.

  • The tone should be confident and enthusiastic without resorting to gimmicks. The cover letter should not be too formal, nor should it sound desperate.

  • The paper and envelope should match or complement your resume. Off-size paper or conservatively colored stationery can be effective in making your letter stand out.

  • Necessary information that is not in your resume should be noted in the cover letter; for example, a temporary telephone number where messages can be left.

  • Language in a plain, easy-to-read style is appropriate. Do not try to sound impressive by using unnecessarily long words or trade jargon. Avoid abbreviations and acronyms that the employer might not understand.

  • It is important to be informed about the potential employer. Do your homework and read about the employer in city magazines, trade journals, information from the Chamber of Commerce, Dun and Bradstreet, the Thomas Register, annual company reports, websites and advertising as well as talking to people affiliated with the business. Use this information to show your interests and how your skills can be utilized

  • Remember to include important contact information.

For on-line links : Quintessential Careers : Dynamic Cover Letters , Wetfeet Cover Letters, Monster.com

For additional assistance, contact the Career and Employment Services Department at Lansing Community College at (517) 483-1172 or stop by the Huron Building (HB).

Center for Employment Services at Lansing Community College

Career and Employment Services
Gannon Building - StarZone
Phone: (517) 483-1172
Additional contact information »

Facebook Twitter YouTube Flickr