5 Tips for a Great Cover Letter (and samples)

Cover Letter Format & Samples

Photo by Artem Podrez

Cover letters are a fantastic tool to introduce oneself in the job search process and are as significant as the resume. A cover letter provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate one’s interest in the organization and establish direct connections between the employer’s job description and one’s professional background. A well-crafted cover letter, tailored to the specific job and company of interest, and addressed to the right person, can make a lasting impression on the employer.

To make the cover letter effective, one must consider some universal tips and considerations when writing it. It is crucial to ensure that the cover letter is clear, concise, and free of errors. Using formal language and avoiding contractions can help maintain a professional tone. Choosing appropriate vocabulary and grammar can help maintain the original meaning of the text and convey a sense of expertise and professionalism, which is suitable for a business or academic setting. So, it is essential to take the time to craft a compelling cover letter that showcases one’s qualifications and skills to the employer in the best possible light.

In addition to the suggestions above, see our list of key considerations to crafting effective and valuable cover letters.

Cover Letter Tips

1. ) All margins should be approximately one-inch. Typically, a cover letter consists of three to four paragraphs.

2.) The font size should be easy to read. Times, Palatino or Helvetica are good choices. A font size of 12 pt. is preferable, but in some cases you may need to use 10.5 or 11 pt. font.

3.) Don’t be tempted to send “generic” letters. Each cover letter you write should be different, because each job and company you’re writing to is different. Make it easy for the reader to see the relevance of your qualifications to the job in question.

4.) Be sure to proofread each new cover letter you create so that it is free of errors.

5.) It is important to write to a specific person whenever possible.

In addition to these quick tips, check out our comprehensive Job Search Letters guide for more information on structuring cover letters and other job search documents.

Finally, we know that some people work best when they have a format to follow. Especially when they are writing a document, like a cover letter for the first time. The following example reflects the correct business format to use when writing a cover letter:

Your name
Return address
City, State, Zip


Name of the contact person
Company Name
City, State, Zip

Dear Mr./Ms./First name Last name:

The opening paragraph states your reason for writing the letter. Mention a specific job of interest, or a particular department in which you are seeking work. If possible, mention how and when you learned about the job opening or the company, i.e., through a classified advertisement, a contact person or a career services professional. Be sure to mention the name of the person who suggested this job to you, especially if that person is highly respected within the company.

The middle paragraph is an opportunity to expand on the skills you have developed as they relate to this position. This should not merely repeat your resume. You can discuss your education and particular courses or skills attained while in college. If you’re an experienced person, you may wish to use this paragraph to describe your professional background and highlight any specific job experience that may be of particular interest to the organization and that will differentiate you from other applicants. You may need a second paragraph to fully describe your related abilities.

The next paragraph reflects the research you have done on that particular organization. Use company literature, a web site, or conversation with an employee of the organization as ways to gain knowledge about the organization. Explain why you are interested in the job, and convey your awareness of what the company does to show that you have done careful research.

In closing, reiterate your enthusiasm to be considered and ask for an interview. Either state a specific week you’ll make a follow-up phone call or mention an interest in having the contacted person call to set up an interview date. Specify how you can be contacted. Remember to thank the person for considering your application.


Full Name

By Greg Denon
Greg Denon Associate Dean, Career Services & Cooperative Education