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Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.


What Is a Cover Letter?

Summary:

This page provides a down-and-dirty guide to writing cover letters. Here you will find brief answers and lists of what you should include in a cover letter, how to order and format such a letter, and what to do before sending it out.

A cover letter introduces you and your resume to potential employers or organizations you seek to join (non-profits, educational institutions, etc). It is the first document an employer sees, so it is often the first impression you will make. Take advantage of this important first impression and prepare the reader for your application, stating why you are writing, why you are a good match for the job and the organization, and when you will contact him or her.

Cover letters do more than introduce your resume, though. A cover letter's importance also includes its ability to:

  • Explain your experiences in a story-like format that works with the information provided in your resume
  • Allow you to go in-depth about important experiences/skills and relate them to job requirements
  • Show the employer that you are individualizing (tailoring) this job application
  • Provide a sample of your written communication skills

The following resources are a compilation of tips and strategies to guide you throughout the writing of your cover letter. Please refer to the sample cover letters for a picture of the finished product.

Good luck writing!

Job seekers at Purdue University may find value in the Purdue career Wiki here.

The following are additional Purdue OWL resources to help you write your cover letter:

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Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.