application for a professional position generally consists of
two documents: a cover letter and a CV. This handout describes
the cover letter; the CV is described in a separate Writing Center
handout. While the CV is a somewhat generic advertisement for
yourself, which you may send unaltered to scores of different
companies, the cover letter allows you to tailor your application
to each specific job. Although the thrust of your various letters
may remain the same, with the assorted text-processing options
available at RPI - options that include find-and-replace and merging
capabilities - there is really no reason to have a single, generic
Each of your
cover letters should bear the name and address of the company
to which you are applying and should address by name the specific
individual who will process your application. Each letter should
also make specific references to the company and indicate your
knowledge of and interest in the work the company is currently
to tailoring your application to a specific job, the cover letter
also allows you to highlight the most important and relevant accomplishments,
skills, and experience listed in your CV. And it is where (if
appropriate) you specifically request an interview.
that your cover letter is, in a very real sense, a schematic of
yourself. It reflects your personality, your attention to detail,
your communication skills, your enthusiasm, and your intellect.
Your cover letter and CV are usually all a prospective employer
has to decide whether or not you will reach the next phase in
the application process--the interview.
the Cover Letter
In the very
first paragraph of your letter, you should state what job you
are applying for and how you learned about it. If you have any
personal contacts in or with the company, you may want to mention
them here. You should also state your general qualifications for
the job. This paragraph should be brief, perhaps two or three
The body of
your letter should consist of one to three longer paragraphs in
which you expand upon your qualifications for the position. Pick
out the most relevant qualifications listed in your CV and discuss
them in detail, demonstrating how your background and experience
qualify you for the job. Be as specific as possible, and refer
the reader to your CV for additional details.
In the concluding
paragraph of your letter, you should request an interview (or
some other response, if appropriate). State where and when you
can be reached, and express your willingness to come to an interview
or supply further information. Close by thanking your reader for
his or her time and consideration.
the Cover Letter
sample illustrate the conventional format of a cover letter. This
sample should also give you a better idea of the content and function
of a cover letter. The entire text of your letter should, of course,
Human Resources Manager
123 Open Street
Dear Mr. Harris:
As an experienced
researcher who is presently pursuing a master's degree in Research
Psychology at Midlands Polytechnic Institute, I am writing to
request information about possible employment opportunities with
XYZ. I am interested in a position that will allow me to combine
the talents I have developed in statistical. However, as you can
see from the attached CV, I have extensive experience in many
other related psychology fields, and I always enjoy new challenges.
I feel that
it is important for me to maintain a practical, real-world perspective
while developing my academic abilities. I am proud of the fact
that I have financed my entire education through scholarships
and summer jobs related to my field of study. This work experience
has enhanced my appreciation for the education I am pursuing.
I find that I learn as much from my summer jobs as I do from my
academic studies. For example, during the summer of 1999, while
working for ABC in Walsall, I gained a great deal of practical
experience in the field of consumer interviews.
all this, I realize that your first consideration in hiring an
applicant must not be the potential educational experience XYZ
can provide, but the skills and services I can offer. I hope the
experience and education described in my CV suggest how I might
be of service to XYZ.
the opportunity to discuss with you how I might best assist XYZ
in fulfilling its present corporate needs. I will be available
for employment from May 14 through August 31, 2000. Please let
me know what summer employment opportunities are available at
XYZ for someone with my education, experience, and interests.
You can reach me at the above address or by phone at (0171) 271-0000.
for your consideration.