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The Purpose of a Cover Letter

Your cover letter should …

Explain why you are sending a resum�. Don’t send a resum� without a cover letter (unless you are explicitly asked to do so.) Don’t make the reader guess what you are asking for; be specific: Do you want a summer internship opportunity or a permanent position at graduation? Are you inquiring about future employment possibilities?

Tell specifically how you learned about the position or the organization (for example, through a flier posted in your department, a specific directory in the Career Development Center, or a family friend who works at the organization). It is appropriate to mention the name of someone who suggested that you write.

Convince the reader to look at your resum�. The cover letter will be seen first. Therefore, it must be very well written and targeted to that employer.

Call attention to elements of your background—education, leadership, experience—that are all relevant to the position you are seeking. Be as specific as possible, using examples.

Reflect your attitude, personality, motivation, enthusiasm and communication skills.

Provide or refer to any information specifically requested in a job advertisement that isn’t covered in your resum�, such as your availability date or the inclusion of a required writing sample.


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