Cover Letter Writing Guide

A cover letter is a document sent with a resume to apply for a job or an internship. Cover letters are a way of introducing yourself to your potential employers. Typically one page in length, the cover letter will express your interest in the job and in working for that company.

The purpose of a cover letter is to attract the employer’s attention to your specific qualifications and skillset and to secure an interview.


Getting Started

There are three things to do as you write a cover letter for any job: research, personalize, and review.

Once you have identified a position that interests you, conduct research on the company.

  • What do you like about this organization?
  • What do you dislike?
  • Do their goals, ideas or mission statement match your own?

 Review the job description. Make sure you meet the requirements before you even apply.  

Your cover letter should include those requirements highlighted by the employer that match your skills. If they’re asking for a reliable, organized person who’s good with math, mention your math and organizational skills.


We recommend that you tailor your cover letter for each specific position and company. Each opportunity is going to ask for different qualifications, so make sure you customize your cover letter.

To personalize this letter, consider including industry keywords that showcase your knowledge of your career field. Address each cover letter to a specific person or use the terms Internship Coordinator or Employment Manager.

Finally, no two cover letters should be exactly the same. Taking the time to personalize your cover letter will improve your professional image.


We encourage you to carefully check that your cover letter is grammatically correct with no typographical errors. Proofread your own cover letter to ensure its accuracy. Spell check does not catch every error, so asking others to review your letter as well is critically important.

Cover Letter Checklist

___ I followed the standard format of: one page in length, easy-to-read font in size 10-12

___ I addressed the letter to a specific person or in a correct way if I don't know who I am writing to

  • Gender neutral language (Dear John Smith instead of Dear Mr. Smith)
  • Dear Hiring Manager (Not Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom it may Concern)

___ My cover letter is well written, easy to read, and free of grammatical mistakes

___ I have given specific examples of my qualifications and achievements that are most relevant to the position

___ I have expressed my knowledge of the company and my interest in working there

___ I personalized my letter with industry keywords so it is specific to the position/company

___ I included my contact information and asked for an interview

___ I thanked the reader

___ I signed my letter by hand

Cover Letter Samples

For ideas on how a cover letter should be formatted, see Cover Letter Example 1 and Cover Letter Example 2.

See more examples of cover letters at FirstHand.

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