Yale Undegraduate Career Services

Cover Letters


A cover letter accompanies your resume when you apply for a position. It is your personal introduction to a prospective employer outlining your interest in the position and the organization and expressing why you are qualified for the position. A cover letter is not a summary of your resume; rather, it is a "teaser" whose function is to make a potential employer want to read your resume.

Each cover letter should be tailored to a specific job description and organization. Show how you meet the required qualifications for that particular job by emphasizing the two or three strongest reasons why you are a compelling candidate (something more than: “I could do that job.”). Show what you know about the organization/industry, and demonstrate why you are a good fit. Use confident language, write in an active voice, and, except in rare circumstances, limit your letter to one page.

The accompanying guidelines and samples will help you craft cover letters and statements.


Effective Resumes and Cover Letters Workshop

Effective Resumes and Cover Letters Workshop

Your resume and cover letter will be your first opportunity to make a positive impression. This presentation will provide information on writing impressive and impactful resumes and cover letters. Watch the presentation.

General Framework

Underestimating the importance of a well-written cover letter is common and costly mistake. Make sure to have your letters reviewed prior to submitting them. The information below will provide you with a general framework to get you started in drafting a cover letter.

Introductory Paragraph

  • Introduce yourself – who are you and why are you writing?
  • Make a connection – why do you want to work for the employer? What appeals to you about the opportunity for which you are applying?
  • Summarize your strengths – highlight strengths, skills, and attributes on which you will elaborate in the middle paragraphs of your cover letter;
  • A well-written introductory paragraph can often stand alone as an abstract of your candidacy.

 Middle Paragraphs

  • Do not simply restate your resume; explain how the experiences listed in your resume demonstrate your qualifications;
  • Elaborate on related experiences, coursework, or activities to provide specific examples to demonstrate skills and attributes the employer is seeking;
  • These paragraphs should answer the following question: what can you bring to the position and employer?

 Concluding Paragraph

  • Reiterate your interest in the employer and position;
  • Focus on next steps, such as requesting an interview.

 Format and Style

  • Include the date, employer name, and contact information at the top of the letter;
  • Begin your letter with a formal salutation, such as "Dear Mr. Edwards."  If you are unsure of the contact person’s gender, type out the full name;
  • End your letter with "Sincerely," "Best Regards," or similar closing, with your name on the following line. Make sure to include your contact information;
  • Letter should not exceed one page, and four to five paragraphs are ideal. If your letter is too long or too dense you run the risk of it not being read;
  • Proofread – make sure your letter is free of grammatical and spelling errors;
  • Font should match your resume and sized at 11 or 12 points. Margins are typically 1-inch on all sides.