One question that we get at the Career Center circles around Cover Letters: If you’re already sending in a resume as an overview of your skills, accomplishments, and knowledge, is it really necessary to add in a cover letter? Doesn’t a cover letter just say the same thing?

The answer is a resounding yes to the former and no to the latter. A cover letter has a completely different function than your resume, and without one you can seriously hamper your opportunities.

Your cover letter gives you the opportunity to tell your story: why you’re interested in that company and that position, what makes you unique as a candidate, which skills you have that directly match what they are looking for, and why they should hire you, rather than someone else. Without a cover letter, you’re flattened into a list of educational accomplishments, rather than a dynamic individual.

So what should be included in your cover letter? The checklist below is a good starting point, but make sure to review our sample letters on the Career Services webpage and schedule an appointment to work on yours!


Cover Letter Checklist

  • My heading layout matches my resume
  • I’ve addressed it to an actual person, not just “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Committee”
  • My first paragraph connects me to the company via my history, interests, location, or field and provides context for my interest in their organization
  • My second paragraph speaks directly to my interest in the position I am applying for, and includes references to the goals, mission, and services of the company. 
  • My third paragraph connects my skills, achievements, and experiences directly to the job posting, using the same language and keyword that the posting uses. It shows that I understand what the position entails and that I have the ability to succeed in it.
  • My fourth paragraph restates my interest in the company, my excitement to talk further about the opportunity, and thanks him/her/them for his/her/their time.
  • I’ve included a professional signoff and my name, with a space for my signature in between
  • I've saved the document as a PDF to print, sign, and scan.

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