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​How to Write a Cover Letter

University Career Services director gives advice

As students wade through the sea of job and internship applications, they are increasingly tasked with writing cover letters along with sending in tailored resumes.

Carrie Weimar, director for Career Counseling and Advising at University Career Services, emphasized the importance of getting the cover letter right.

“If it’s not a strong cover letter, you’re never going to get the interview and never going to get the job,” Weimar said.

Though cover letters are not always required by employers, Weimar said applications should always submit one when appropriate.

A cover letter allows applicants to personalize their applications. It is broken into three main parts: introduction, body paragraph(s) and conclusion.

Weimar said it is important to “have an introduction highlighting things from your background and connecting it to the business description.”

The introductory paragraph should specifically address to whom the applicant is writing and include who the applicant is and what position he or she is applying for.

Though the introduction is important, Weimar stressed that “the body is the most important part of the letter.”

In one to two paragraphs, applicants should state any experience that qualifies them for the job, including coursework, extracurriculars and other jobs or internships.

The conclusion should thank the person to whom the letter is addressed and note availability.

Weimar stressed that it’s important to write new cover letters for every position.

“Often when students apply for multiple things they think they can use the same cover letter,” she said.

She said this leads to common mistakes, such as forgetting to change the name of the company to which the letter is addressed.

“[The] first couple ones are the hardest to write,” Weimar said. “They get easier over time.”

Weimar said students are welcome to bring their cover letters to UCS for feedback. More advice on writing cover letters, including formatting tips, are available on the UCS website.