Cover Letter Guidelines
V A NG U A R D U NI V E R SI T Y C A R E ER S E R V I C E S
Always send a cover letter along with an application or resume to an employer. Its purpose is to
more specific you are, the clearer it will be that you’ve done your homework and that you know
introduce you and show the prospective employer how your background fits their particular job.
what the employer needs and what you have to offer.
Use the cover letter to expand on points from your resume that you feel are especially noteworthy or
Emailed Cover Letters
relevant. You can also let the employer know that you are willing to relocate or that you have a
mutual acquaintance. You should demonstrate that you have done your research on the organization
When applying for employment via email, write your cover letter in the body of an email message.
and know how you can be an asset to the employer. Prepare an original cover letter for each job –
Make sure you include a signature with your email address and phone number. Include the title of
NOT a form letter.
the position you are applying for in the subject line of your message. Use a simple font and remove
the fancy formatting. Send the message to yourself first to test that the formatting works. If everything
Cover Letters for Advertised Listings
looks good, resend to the employer. Make sure you spell check and check your grammar and
1. Research the Employer
capitalization. They are just as important in an email cover letter as in paper cover letters.
Research the prospective employer’s organization to see how your skills andabilities meet the
Cover Letter Dos & Dont’s
organization’s needs, and how well your values match those promoted by the organization. In your
cover letter, show why you are a good fit. Send the letter to a specific person whenever possible;
otherwise, use “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Human Resources Manager.”
2. Analyze the Job Description
Take a good look at the job responsibilities and qualifications and design your cover letter to match these
Use paper that matches your resume
as much as you can. Often job listings are short and vague. In this case, draw from your research of
Write an original cover letter for each employer and position
similar jobs to infer what skills and abilities might be required. For instance, if you were looking for a job
State in the first sentence why you are writing
with a bank, it would be appropriate to mention courses and past experience related to finance.
Show that you know your career goals and how they relate to the position and the
3. Analyze Your Background
Think about your background in relation to the job responsibilities and qualifications. Ask yourself,
Demonstrate originality and enthusiasm
“What have I done that is similar to what this job entails?” Consider courses taken, classroom projects,
Make your points succinctly; every point should support your application
past work experience, summer jobs, internships, volunteer experience, extracurricular involvement (on-
Proofread for typos and accuracy of address and telephone numbers
and off-campus) and travel.
Run Spell Check on your computer before you print your final copy, but remember it
Beyond Advertised Listings
cannot detect the wrong form of the word or a homonym
Print envelopes using a computer printer, if physically mailing
Networking and Research Leads
Keep copies of all materials for your records
You will also write cover letters to employers that you identify in your independent job search. Through
networking or research, you will learn of specific openings or job titles that interest you. Be sure to
Follow up with the employer - if you don’t hear back after a couple of weeks, inquire if
indicate in the first paragraph what position you’re seeking. If a specific person alerted you to the
any further information is needed and reiterate your interest
job opening, include that person’s name and professional affiliation (e.g., “Professor Carl Rogers in
Vanguard University’s psychology department suggested I contact you about your Sanitary Engineer
Make the letter more than one page
opening”). Employers receive many letters and resumes. They are more likely to read letters that mention
specific people they know.
Use generic, all-purpose cover letters – never copy cover letters
Exaggerate your skills or experience
Letters of Inquiry
If you are asking about possible job opportunities, you are sending a letter of inquiry. Address your letter
to a specific individual, usually the person who supervises the functional area where you’d like to work.
Be as specific as possible about the type of position that interests you. Ideally, your research will reveal
the job titles used by this employer. If not, use commonly understood generic job titles in the field. The