Cover Letter

The COVER LETTER is where you connect your skills and previous experiences to the position and its desired qualifications. Make sure to tailor every cover letter to each job position for which you apply. This involves taking the time to think about how your strengths, interests, and background match the requirements and qualifications of the position and clearly expressing why you would be a good job candidate. Research the employer, school or organization and demonstrate your interest in them. For an academic portfolio a cover letter is essential for introducing yourself to the search committee. The content of the message is necessarily tailored to the school you're applying to and should align your education and experience with the current needs of the department. Convey the experience and expertise that make you the best fit for the open position. It's the first thing the search committee may see.

Cover Letter Basics

Purpose: Synthesize and explain your experiences, skills, and qualifications to show your interest in and fit for a position and employer

Format/Appearance:

  • Resources with Templates: Microsoft Word
  • Length: Usually one page (typically industry) but can be expanded to 2 pages (typically academia) depending on the position, your experiences, and employer requirements
  • Document Margins and Font: Utilize .5 ("narrow") or 1 inch margins for the document layout and basic font such as Times, Calibri, etc. with a 10-12 pt. font size
  • Easy to Read: Paragraph format 
  • Style: Adjust the look of the document based on the employer and position. A basic look is often used, but certain circumstances may merit utilizing lines, color and/or design to create a more contemporary or artistic look

Organization/Content:

  • Tailored: Customized for each specific position and employer to showcase the MOST RELEVANT information
  • Clear, Concise and Organized: Focus on the employer’s needs, emphasizing skills, experiences and technical expertise that demonstrate your ability to add immediate value
  • Error-free: Proofread several times for spelling, grammar, and structure. Your advisor and a Graduate Career Consultant should review the document before you send it to prospective employers
  • Paragraph Themes: Develop clear themes within paragraphs that alight with themes from the job posting (ex. Research, Teaching, Service, Technical Knowledge...)
  • Paragraph Structure: Utilize introduction topic sentences, supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence within each paragraph to create flow, clarity, and consistency 
  • Online Presence: Consider developing and including a profile link to LinkedInAcademica.edu, and/or a professional website

Additional Resources