Writing a Cover Letter

Craft a stand-out letter for your prospective employer.

Writing a Cover Letter

A cover letter’s purpose is to communicate to the employer a personalized message about your potential value to that organization as well as express enthusiasm for a position and organization in a narrative voice. This resource will give you insight on what to include to write a compelling cover letter.

Keep reading to learn:

  • Components of a cover letter
  • Best practices for writing
  • Sample cover letter

Writing the body of a cover letter

Opening Paragraph

Begin by explaining what position you are applying for, how you heard of the position opening, and a bit about how you see a strong match between you and the position/organization. Researching the position and organization should assist you in making that connection. Start strong and ensure that you are conveying your enthusiasm.

Middle Paragraph(s)

The body of your letter should make clear connections between the experiences and skills that you have, and the qualifications for a successful candidate found in the job description. Give details of experiences that support your qualifications for the position and your specific interest and knowledge regarding the organization. This may take more than one paragraph.

Closing Paragraph

Reiterate your interest in the organization and why you’d be a good fit. State your desire to meet with the individual to further discuss the position and tell them how you plan to follow up with them. Always thank them for their time and consideration of your application.

Best Practices for Writing

Tailor ItEach cover letter must be tailored to the specific position you’re applying for. You can’t get away with using the same cover letter repeatedly.
Address ItDo your research (via web or phone) to find a person to address the cover letter to. Avoid starting with “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam.”
Be SpecificAvoid generic references to your abilities, be specific when highlighting direct experiences from your resume. Tell a story!
Be conciseYour cover letter should not be longer than one page.
Use sentence varietyAvoid excessive use of the word “I” as well as passive statements.
Double CheckProofread and spellcheck before you submit.

Cover Letter Example

Taylor S. Tailor

taylor.tailor@stthomas.edu, (651)-567-8910, linkedin.com/taylor.s.tailor

August 15, 2020

Ms. Jo Anne Roberts
Director of Sales
MN Apps Inc.
2000 Excelsior Boulevard
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Dear Ms. Roberts:

I am very interested in the Technical Sales Representative internship position that is currently posted on the St. Thomas Career Development Center’s web page. I will be graduating next spring with a major in Marketing, and my hope is to work in sales. I am especially interested in working with an organization such as MN Technology Sales that separates itself from the competition by emphasizing a collaborative approach to customer relations.

As the enclosed resume indicates, I have had internship and other experiences which have given me exposure to a variety of work environments. This past summer I was able to support the sales department in a mid-sized business, helping them to increase their revenue by 10%. I’ve also had the opportunity to develop strong communication and teamwork skills through my volunteer experience with Habitat for Humanity.

One of my more challenging work experiences has been as an Orientation Leader at the University of St. Thomas. I was responsible for leading groups of incoming first year students through a day’s worth of activities to help them get prepared for the college experience, which was both challenging and rewarding. In this position I had the opportunity to develop and strengthen strong presentation skills as well as an ability to maintain flexibility and demonstrate excellent judgment and leadership skills.

I am looking forward to discussing the Technical Sales Representative position with you. I will call you early next week to follow-up on my application. Thank you for your time.


Taylor S. Tailor

Next Steps

  • Draft a tailored cover letter for specific roles you are applying for
  • Have it reviewed by a Career Ambassador in the Career Development Center, and/or the Center for Writing
  • Proofread carefully before submitting, and save your work so you can refer back to it in the future