Cornell University

Office of Career Services

201 Ives Hall, 607-255-7816

Guidelines for Writing Your Cover Letters

The Career Guide (pdf), also available in hard copy in 201 Ives Hall, has excellent tips and guidelines on writing job-search correspondence, as well as samples of the various types of letters you might create. You may also want to review our examples of cover letters that are geared specifically to ILR jobs.

General Guidelines

As with any general business letter, your cover letter should begin with your return address and date.

Next, you'll need the inside address and a salutation.

In your first paragraph, indicate the specific position or type of work for which you are applying and how you learned of the job opening.

In the second paragraph, mention why you are interested in the position, the organization, and it's products or services. It's extremely important to communicate what you can do for the employer. If you are a recent graduate, explain how your academic background makes you a qualified candidate for the position. If you have had some practical work experience, point out specific achievements or unique qualifications. Try not to repeat the same information the reader will find in the résumé. In the third paragraph, refer the reader to your résumé, which summarizes your qualifications, training, skills, and experience.

In the closing paragraph, indicate your interest in a personal interview. You may want to suggest alternative dates and times or simply advise the employer of your flexibility as to the time and place. Repeat your phone number in the letter and offer any assistance to help in a speedy response. For example, say you will be in the city where the organization is located on a certain date and would like to set up an interview. You could also ask if the organization will be recruiting in your areas, or if it needs additional information and references.

End with a closing such as:

Sincerely yours,

(Don't forget to sign your letter!)

First Name Last Name (typed)

Enclosure(s) (Refers to résumé, application, etc.)