Below you will find information on how to write cover letters and how to format them to specific positions. If you're unsure how to begin your cover letter, use the 'Cover Letter Worksheet' to get a feel for the format. Then, reference to the templates to begin writing your own.
Below you will also find FAQs that will help you develop your cover letter and answer any questions you may have.
Not sure if your cover letter reads well or expresses what you are trying to convey? Stop into the Department of Career Development to have your cover letter looked at by our career mentors during our drop-in hours, or make an appointment by calling the office at (585) 245-5721.
|Cover Letter Worksheet||Cover Letter Guide||Cover Letter Packet|
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a well-crafted, professional letter that accompanies a résumé. It is considered a formal communication which serves as an introduction of you and your qualifications to a prospective employer. Résumés are often read before letters, so the goal is to provide the employer with the incentive to invite you for an interview.
Why do I need one?
Cover letters are written when you are aware that an opening exists and you wish to address your specific attributes which qualify you. It is an extension of your résumé that offers the chance to go more in depth about certain experiences that will differentiate you from other applicants. Another type of cover letter is a letter of inquiry, in which you are unaware of any specific vacancies, but want to establish your interest in opportunities which may become available with a particular employer.
Should I have more than one cover letter?
Yes! Just like résumés, cover letters should be personalized to the specific position and organization you are applying to. Cover letters give you an opportunity to express why you’re the best candidate for that position. You will want to reflect different qualities and achievements depending on the application.
What are some Career Development resources?
Check out the various cover letter templates and beginner's worksheet for help writing your cover letter.
What are some tips?
1. Accompanied with resume
A cover letter should always be sent with a résumé. Since the résumé is typically read first, do not repeat all your information onto your cover letter. This wastes space that should be designated to explaining your qualifications, instead of stating them.
Cover letters are not autobiographies. The goal is to keep your letter short enough to sustain the interest of the reader while best expressing your qualifications. With this being said, it should be kept to one page.
Appearance is very important when making a first impression. Do not use harsh colors, stick to black. Format the letter in paragraph form. Break it up into 2-3 paragraphs to make it easier to read. Have someone proofread your letter for errors, awkward phrases, etc. Your letter must be accurate, attractive and error-free.
Unlike a résumé, use personal pronouns in a cover letter since you are explaining your qualifications. Also, personalize the letter whenever possible. For example, mention the name of the organization in the body of your letter rather than referring to "your organization". When discussing your relevant experiences, it can help to think about not only what you've done, but how well you've done it.
5. Professional Printing/Paper
If printing, use high quality bond paper in the same color as your résumé. If sending electronically, also convert the Word document to a PDF.
6. Addressed to
Your letter must be directed to a specific person and reflect that person's correct title. It is appropriate to call the organization’s human resources office to ask for the correct name and title. If necessary, refer to a person’s title, ex. ‘Dear Human Resource Director’, do not use ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.