Tips for Writing your Cover Letter

A cover letter is often included as a complement to your resume. Employers use cover letters to determine your interest in the position and company as well as to assess your writing ability.

Your cover letter should be clearly structured and should answer the following questions:

  • Who are you? Introduce yourself. State your major and year at Iowa Wesleyan College.
  • Why are you writing? In the first few sentences mention the specific job title, if you know it, and how you heard about the opening. Be concise.
  • Why are you interested in the position? Without getting too personal, relate something about the job to your own interests or experiences to show the employer that you have a genuine interest in working for the company.
  • How are you qualified? Highlight skills and specific achievements that demonstrate why you are qualified for the position and use key terms from the job description that are relevant to your background.
  • What is your next step? In closing, you should request an interview with a strong reminder as to why the employer should meet with you. Also, consider adding a statement expressing that you will call (e.g. within two weeks) to confirm that your application has been received (if you have their phone number and will follow up – don’t take this step if they’ve requested that you do not contact them).

Cover Letter Tips

  • Align all text on the left hand margin.
  • Target the cover letter to a specific employer and job description.
  • Address the letter to a specific individual. If no name was given in the job announcement, call the organization to track down a name. If all else fails, use “Dear Hiring Manager:” or “Dear Search Committee:”
  • Be brief! An ideal cover letter will be three to four concise paragraphs and fit on one page.
  • Stick to three or four skills that you possess that are relevant to the position and mention concrete examples that demonstrate these skills (the examples should come from your resume).
  • Match the font style and formatting of your resume to your cover letter.
  • Proofread several times and ask friends to help you proofread as well.
  • Keep a log of the applications you sent including: date, contact person, follow-up date (if appropriate) and follow-up communication notes.