Writing Guide for Cover Letters & Thank You Letters
Written & Compiled by Denise McConkey, Career Services, Oakland University, Rochester, MI
I. Purpose of Cover Letters and Thank You Letters 1
II. Cover Letters for Internships 2
III. Surefire Tips for Effective Cover Letters 2
IV. Tips for Winning Thank You Letters 2
V. Cover Letter Layout 3
VI. Sample Cover Letters 4-6
VII. Thank You Letter Layout 7
VIII. Sample Thank You Letters 8-9
I. Purpose of:
A successful cover letter tells a prospective employer who you are, what you've accomplished, and why they
should be interested in talking with you. It should be personal rather than mass generated, meaning that it
should refer to a specific person at a specific company. When done right, a cover letter can encourage a
prospective employer to read your resume and possibly even to contact you for an interview. You should not
wait for the employer to get in touch with you, however. It usually takes a proactive response on your part to
move the process forward to the next level and increase your odds of success. While a cover letter alone can't
get you a job, it can definitely open doors for you.
Thank You Letters
Send a thank-you letter within twenty-four to forty-eight hours after an informational interview or a formal
interview with a company representative, regardless of whether you would like to work for the
company/organization. It is a simple acknowledgment of appreciation and it is not only polite, but also
appropriate to say thank you. A thank you letter does several things:
Helps you present yourself as an organized and thorough candidate
Can leave a positive impression with an employer, therefore setting you apart from other candidates
Remind the employer who you are
Impress the employer with your courtesy and conscientiousness
Convey to the employer that you sincerely appreciate his or her time and consideration
II. Cover letters for internships
When applying for an internship (paid or unpaid), the guidelines for writing a cover letter are essentially the
same, although your reader's expectations are a little different. The employer won't expect you to have as much
experience in the field, for example, so it's okay to talk more about your academic background and campus
activities. Also, since an internship is an opportunity for you to get exposure to and learn hands-on skills in a
particular field or industry, it is fine to discuss your career goals and your own need for experience - something
you wouldn't necessarily do in a letter for a regular job.
III. Surefire Tips for Effective Cover Letters
Tailor your letters as much as possible to the target employer and the industry as a whole.
Talk more about what you can do for the employer/position rather than what the employer can do for you.
Convey focused career goals.
Don't say anything negative or anything that you don't back up with evidence.
Always be honest, but not necessarily too modest.
Cut to the chase - don't ramble.
Talk about problems you've solved or past accomplishments in other positions.
Make your letter visually appealing.
Limit to one page in length including 3-4 targeted paragraphs (focused on the employer’s needs, not yours).
Have others review your letter before sending it out. Many employers view the cover letter as an example of
your written communication skills. Make sure it is also spell-checked and grammar-checked.
Keep a record of all of the letters you send out along with a log of follow-up efforts.
IV. Tips for Winning Thank You Letters
Act Fast - Plan to send your thank you letters within twenty-four to forty-eight hours after your interview.
Make an Impression - Less than 4% of applicants send thank you notes. Use your letter as a way to stand
out from the crowd and make a good impression.
Personalized Thank You Letters - Should be written for each person within the company who interviewed
you, even if you follow a similar format for each letter.
Thank You Letter Basics - Thank you letters can be typed, emailed or handwritten, just make sure they are
business-like in appearance. Include your interest in the position, relevant qualifications/skills, and a final
thank you. If the employer is making a quick hiring decision and you need to get your letter out
immediately, it is recommended that you send your thank you letter via email so you can reiterate your
interest in the position sooner rather than later. If there is no sense of urgency, you may still consider a
traditional letter printed on the same paper stock as your resume.
Short and Simple - Keep your thank you letters short and simple. Use the letter as an opportunity to reiterate
your interest in the job, your enthusiasm for the company and to sell yourself as the ideal candidate.
What You Didn't Say - If there was something that you wish you had mentioned during the interview, here's
your chance to say it by including it in your thank you letter.
Remember to Proofread - Spell check and proof your thank you letter before sending it. Then ask someone
else to proof it for you. That way you will be sure it's perfect.
V. COVER LETTER LAYOUT
Your Address (Same as on your Resume)
City, State, ZIP
Name of Contact Person
City, State ZIP
Dear (Contact Person’s Name):
Opening Paragraph: Why you are writing
State why you are writing. Name the position or type of position for which you are applying
Mention how you learned of the position
Mention the name of any referring person
Briefly describe why you are interested in this particular position
Body of the Letter: Sell yourself
Briefly describe the skills and/or experiences you possess that fit the requirements of the position
If you have related experiences, mention your qualifications and achievements
This is your chance to give the reader more insight as to who you are as a person. Do not repeat your
resume. This is the time to mention personal qualities or special experiences and motivators.
Closing Paragraph: Request an interview
Directly, but politely, indicate your desire to further discuss your qualifications in an interview
Make it easy for the reader to contact you by providing your phone number(s), email, and the best time to
Thank the contact person for his or her time and consideration
Your typed name
VI. SAMPLE COVER LETTER-Possible Internship
Your City, State, Zip Code
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:
I am writing in response to your advertisement in the Oakland Press for the Human Resource Development
internship. I am very interested in the position and it fits my qualifications perfectly.
After completing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Resource Development from Oakland University in
May, I enrolled in the Master of Training and Development program to further enhance my credentials in the
field. Course highlights include: Instructional Design, Theoretical Foundations in Training and Development,
Needs Assessment, Program Evaluation, and Program Administration in HR Settings.
Based on your description of the ideal candidate, I also offer:
A solid educational foundation including the ability to lead and support interventions and processes
associated with diagnosing individual and organizational performance problems. Opportunities to design
and implement solutions as well as evaluate results.
The ability to apply instructional design principles to the effective analysis, design, development,
implementation, and evaluation of technology-based solutions.
The knowledge and skills to effectively plan and conduct a comprehensive needs assessment.
If you agree that my credentials would be valuable to ABC Company, I would very much like to meet you in
person to learn more about your HR support needs. Please feel free to call me at (insert number) or email at
(insert email). Thank you for your consideration.
Your Typed Name
VI. SAMPLE COVER LETTER – Networking Letter
456 College Hall
Rochester, MI 48309
February 16, 2005
Ms. Jane Doe
Big Public Accounting, Inc.
123 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 12345
Mr. Dave Zbecki, my accounting professor at Oakland University, suggested that I contact you. He informed
me that Big Public Accounting is actively seeking to hire individuals for your Auditor Development Program.
I have more than two years of accounting experience, including interning as an Auditor last year with the
Detroit office of Ernst & Young. I will be receiving my BBA this May from Oakland University, graduating
Magna Cum Laude. I am confident that my combination of practical work experience and solid educational
experience has prepared me for making an immediate contribution to Big Public Accounting. Having interned
with a leading firm in the public accounting field, I understand the level of professionalism and communication
required for long-term success in the field. My background and professional approach to business will provide
your office with a highly productive Auditor upon completion of your Development Program.
Please call me at 248-555-1212 to arrange a convenient time when we may meet to further discuss my
background in relation to your needs. I look forward to meeting you.
Tracy Q. Graduate
VI. SAMPLE COVER LETTER – Application Letter
1245 Candlewood Lane
Rochester, MI 48076
April 17, 2005
Smith Marketing Associates
125 Smith Blvd.
Rochester, MI 48095
Dear Ms. Smith:
I read about the position of Marketing Associate with great interest. In your advertisement you mention that
you’re looking for a candidate with excellent writing and public speaking skills as well as the ability to plan
workshops. My writing skills and career-related experiences make me well qualified for the position.
As sociology major, I’ve written 20 tem papers over the past four years and have consistently received excellent
grades and comments on my writing style. I also write articles for the university newspaper and have been
editor for the past year. In terms of public speaking experience, as an intern for the Career Service office on
campus, I’ve conducted information sessions to students interested in obtaining career related experience. I’m
also a tour guide for the Admission Office on campus. I’m excited at the thought of using similar skills for the
Marketing Associate position.
Enclosed is my resume for your review. I look forward to talking with you in detail about the position.
VII. THANK YOU LETTER LAYOUT
(Use specific individual's name and title)
First paragraph. Thank the interviewer for meeting with you. Express your enthusiasm about gaining
employment in the organization.
Second paragraph. Reiterate your qualifications for and continuing interest in the position. Include any personal
skills you forgot to mention during your interview or anything about the position or company that was of
particular interest. Emphasize a specific skill or accomplishment that would make you an asset as an employee.
Closing paragraph(s). Briefly thank the interviewer again for consideration. Express confidence in your ability
to perform well in the organization. State that you look forward to hearing from the interviewer.
Your name (typed)
VII. SAMPLE THANK YOU LETTER
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:
I want to thank you for interviewing me yesterday for the associate engineer position. I enjoyed meeting you
and learning more about your research and design work.
My enthusiasm for the position and my interest in working for ABC organization were strengthened as a result
of the interview. I believe my education and cooperative experiences fit nicely with the job requirements, and I
am sure that I will make a significant contribution to the organization over time.
I want to reiterate my strong interest in the position and in working with you and your staff. You provide the
kind of opportunity I seek. Please feel free to contact me at (insert number) or (insert email) if I can provide
you with any additional information.
Your Typed Name
VIII. SAMPLE THANK-YOU LETTER Cont.
1234 West Fifth Street
Pontiac, MI 83725
June 15, 20005
Mr. Howard Smith
Modern Advertising, Inc.
5555 Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Dear Mr. Smith:
Thank you for the opportunity to interview with you on Thursday, June 14, to discuss the position of copywriter
at Modern Advertising, Inc. I was impressed with the enthusiasm you displayed for Modern Advertising’s
future and the helpfulness of your office personnel. Learning about Modern’s present media campaign for the
Houston Sausage Company was exciting and demonstrated your creative approach to advertising. Modern
Advertising is a company with which I wish to be associated.
Your description of the special qualifications needed for this position was especially interesting. My ability to
work under pressure and meet tight deadlines has already been proven in the advertising position I held with the
Columbia Missourian. As I stated at our meeting, I enjoy the challenge of a competitive environment in which
success is based on achievement.
I would also like to mention that since our meeting, I have received the College Reporter’s Award for an article
of mine published in the Columbia Missourian. This is my first national award, and I am quite encouraged by
this approval of my work.
Again, thank you for considering me for the position of copywriter. I look forward to hearing from you soon.