Syracuse UniversityCareer Services

BlogFacebookTwitterYoutubeInstagramLinkedIn
conbuild.png

COVER LETTERS

A cover letter accompanies the resume when submitting an internship or job application. It is an opportunity to infuse some voice and personality, providing an opportunity to convince an employer that you’re a good fit for a position.

WHERE TO BEGIN

Use the job description to write your cover letter. Print out the posting and go through it with a highlighter. Any skills, experience, qualifications, and key features that resonate with you, highlight! Write your cover letter emphasizing those key skills. The cover letter is an example of how you can show how you match (fit) the opportunity. The cover letter should be less than one page and easy to read. Avoid large blocks of text.

WHAT TO WRITE

Your cover letter should combine two elements: your story and the position description.

  • Draw upon previous internships, jobs, academic work, volunteering, and personal projects to identify three to four skills that you bring to the position.
  • Bridge the experience on your resume with the needs of the employer.
  • Incorporate some of the key words from the job posting into your resume and cover letter as well, where you have relevant experience.

Venn Diagram showing relationship between your story and the opportunity


MAKE TO SHINE

Now that you have the basics of your cover letter down, really make it shine with these extra details:
  • Grab the reader's attention from the beginning with a relevant accomplishment or detail that will differentiate you from other applicants.
  • Have a connection inside the organization? Or, if someone directly referred you to the position, include their name (after asking them!).
  • Talk achievements, not duties. “Recruited 85 new members for my student organization” sounds more impressive than “Responsible for the recruitment of new members.”
  • How can you help the organization? Focus on what you can contribute.
  • Every cover letter should be tailored to reflect the needs of the position and the unique qualities that make you a good fit for the role.
  • Consistency matters! Use the same font, size, and header in your cover letter as you used in your resume.