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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Cover Letters

Cover letters are an important part of the job application process. Taking time on a letter can help you get that first phone call or interview. Follow these tips for an effective letter.

Format

Introduction (Paragraph #1)

Say how you learned about the position. Mention if you heard about the opportunity from a shared contact. Get the reader’s attention and establish credibility in one or two sentences why you are a prime candidate for the position.

Middle Paragraph (#2 and Possibly #3)

Persuade the reader and give specifics. When providing examples of your experience, be sure to explain how you can use your qualifications to impact the success of the company. Connect the dots for the employer—how you will help them reach their goals.

Close (Paragraph #4)

Reiterate your message and offer thanks. Be sure the employer knows you are interested in the position and is clear on how to reach you.

Cover Letter Dos

Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., and Katharine Hansen, Ph.D. offer the following:

  • Do include a cover letter with every resume submission.
  • Do address your letter to a named individual. Don’t use a generic salutation, such as “To Whom It May Concern”.
  • Do send an original letter to each employer.
  • Do speak to the requirements of the job, especially when responding to an ad.
  • Do keep your letter brief. It should never be longer than one page.
  • Do tell the employer how you can meet his or her needs and contribute to the company.
  • Do distinguish your cover letter from those of other jobseekers by quantifying and giving examples that amplify and prove the claims you make in your letter.
  • Do be sure the potential employer can reach you.
  • Do personally sign the letter, preferably in black ink

Get more cover letter tips from the University's Career Services cover letters section.