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Creating Cover Letters

A cover letter is a complementing document to your resume. It is another opportunity to sell yourself to the potential employer. It expands upon your resume and highlights your skills and achievements. A cover letter allows you to elaborate how your experience uniquely qualifies you for the job and how you can add value.

There are four main paragraphs in a standardized cover letter.

  • Introduction paragraph: Introduce yourself, the position of interest, how you heard about the position.
  • Experience paragraph: Highlight your professional experience(s) and identify how it relates to the requirements of the position you are seeking.
  • Value add paragraph: Specify what you can offer.
  • Closing paragraph: Focus on the next steps, such as requesting an interview and following up with an email or phone call.

Tips for writing a cover letter:

  • Customize your cover letter to meet the desired qualifications of each position. Avoid sending a generic cover letter.
  • Research the position and the company.
  • Always address the letter to the hiring manager, if known.
  • Maintain professionalism.
  • Be concise.
  • Edit and proofread your cover letter.
  • Avoid repeating your resume.
  • Do not use too many "I's" (overuse of pronouns).
  • Avoid stating a date by which you are available to start.
  • Never embellish your qualifications and experience.

Effective cover letters are essential to your job search. You should present yourself in the way that best highlights your strengths and competencies.

Dartmouth students, faculty, and staff have free access to online tutorial offerings on job search strategies, cover letter and resume writing, interviewing, and more -- click here to access


Last Updated: 4/30/14