Sections of a Cover Letter
Personal Contact Info
Required: Name, Address, Phone, Email
Optional: LinkedIn, Online portfolio
Employer ‘s Contact Info
Name, Department, Company, Address. If no specific person’s name use position title or dept. name, If no address use email with city/ state
Try to address your cover letter to a person. If no specific name can use “Dear Search Committee,”, “Dear Hiring Manager”, or “To Whom it May Concern:”
Introduce yourself and express your interest in the position. Possible subjects include:
- Who you are - year in school, university, major
- The specific job title
- How you heard about the job and, if appropriate, name of the person who told you about it
- Why you’re interested in the position (be specific!)
- Why you’re qualified. This should be a brief one sentence summary of why you are a good fit for the position (similar to a thesis statement)
Describe 1-3 of your experiences/projects that show your job-specific skills and qualifications. Make sure to:
- Show how you make a good fit with the position/organization
- Focus on what you will bring to the organization that will make them glad they hired you
- Not simply restate your resume
- Break up the paragraph into smaller sections if it is too big. Smaller paragraphs are more readable
Final interest and fit statement in which you:
- Include your availability, and how you will follow through with the application. Tell the reader what is the best way to reach you
- Thank the employer for their consideration
- Add any other practical remarks - e.g. if you have not completed a certification yet but are scheduled to take the exam, or if you will be relocating or will be visiting the area soon
““Sincerely”, “Best Regards”, “Yours,’ Hand-written signature AND Typed name. Best to hand-write signature but if you are unable to scan document you can use script-like font instead
A cover letter is an important tool to use when applying for a job because it:
- Introduces you to the prospective employer
- Highlights your enthusiasm for the position
- Describes your specific skills and qualifications for the job or internship, and clearly explains why you are a good fit
- Confirms your availability to start a new position
You should always include a cover letter when applying for a job unless you are specifically told not to by the employer. We recommend that you write a cover letter (aka letter of intent) after you have drafted and tailored your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) for a particular job description. For academic faculty and teaching positions, see cover letter instructions in Masters, Ph.D.'s and Postdocs section. When applying online and limited to uploading one document, you can create a single PDF document that includes both your resume and cover letter.
What to Include in a Cover Letter
Use the cover letter template and planner to get started. When drafting your cover letter, keep the following DO’s and DON’Ts in mind:
- Limit the cover letter to one page if possible, unless applying to academic faculty, teaching or research positions.
- Use the same font and formatting in the cover letter as you use in your resume.
- You might also want to use the same header in both a cover letter and resume. See header formatting examples.
- If providing a printed copy, use the same type of paper for both your cover letter and resume. Resume paper can be purchased at the UC Davis Bookstore or at an office supply store.
- Many tech companies prefer the cover letter not be attached, but uploaded as text in an email with the resume attached.
- Use formal, professional language in a cover letter. This is true when sending your cover letter as text in an email (above point).
- Personalize each cover letter to the specific position you are applying to.
- Address your cover letter to a specific person or the hiring manager whenever possible. If you don’t know their name, use one of the following examples:
- "Dear Hiring Manager,"
- "Dear [insert department here] Hiring Team,"
- "Dear Recruiter, "
- “Dear Search Committee Chair and Committee Members:” (used for academic teaching positions)
- "To Whom It May Concern: " Note, this last one uses a “:” not a “,”
- Check for typos, proper grammar and accuracy.
- Use spellcheck, but do not rely on it to catch all errors.
- Have multiple people review your application materials.
- Make an appointment with an ICC adviser to review your application materials before you apply.
- Unless told explicitly not to, you should always include a cover letter in your application.
- Don’t use text abbreviations or emoticons if you are using email.
- Don’t be too wordy or write just to fill the entire page.
- Don’t submit a generic “one size fits all” cover letter; tailor your cover letter to fit each position. Thus, none of your cover letters will be exactly the same, though a lot of content will be similar in each.
- Don’t repeat or summarize your resume in your cover letter. Instead, focus the cover letter on your enthusiasm for the job, excitement about working with that organization, to highlight unique skills that make you qualified for the position and a good fit for the employer.
- Don’t overuse adjectives or superlatives, especially subjective ones (e.g. “You are the best company in the world” or “I am the most hardworking student intern you will ever meet.”).
- Quantify when possible. "I've helped organize three club events, including two successful initiatives attended by 25 people" is a better descriptor then "I've helped organize several club events, including a couple successful initiatives attended by many people."
- Don’t exaggerate your skills or experience.
- Don’t use UC Davis letterhead, logo, or UC seal in your cover letter. [NOTE: For graduate students and postdocs, some departments allow use of department letterhead for tenure-track faculty applications. Check with your department before using.]