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Cover Letters
Writing effective job correspondence is a vital activity in any job search. Every letter you write provides
you with an opportunity to make a positive impression on the recipient. The purpose
of the cover letter is to demonstrate the fit between your background and the position for which you are
applying. You should use this opportunity to cite accomplishments and attributes that would be of
special interest to a given employer, and to elaborate on relevant sections of your resume. Use your
cover letter to guide the recipient’s attention to the most relevant portions of your resume or to explain
how a particular experience has provided you with the skills you need to work successfully in the new
environment. Do not simply regurgitate the information listed on your resume. Your emphasis should
always be on what you can do for the employer, not what you hope to get from the experience. Always
send a cover letter with any resume you send through the mail, email, or by FAX. Your letter should be
directed to a specific person within the employing organization, preferably the individual who is making
the hiring decision for the position you are seeking. Carefully follow the directions for applying in the
posted advertisement. If you are contacting an employer directly, call the company and ask for the
name, title, and correct spelling of the head of the department in which you would like to work.

Letter of Inquiry: Used to initiate contact with an employer to find out about possible job or
internship opportunities.
Application Letter: Sent to an employer when applying for a posted job or internship. It should
always be accompany a resume, even if it is not specifically requested. If requested by employer, it
may also include salary requirements or salary history. Respond to the question in the
closing paragraph, after you have highlighted your skills, experience and interest in the position.
Generally, you should not avoid either question, but do not restrict yourself to an exact figure.
Instead research the salary range for the position and provide the general range or percentage
increase you are willing to accept. If the employer is requesting a salary history you have a few
options: a) you can list out your previous employers and respective salaries, b) give a range that
represents your previous salaries or c) if you do not have much work history provide the industry
salary range for the position and location. If you are uncomfortable giving your salary requirements
or history, or have no clue what the appropriate range is, you can deflect the questions by suggesting
it be discussed during an interview; “My salary requirements would depend on the total
compensation package including benefits and the opportunity to earn performance-based incentives.
I am confident we can arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement during our interview." See template
below for additional sample phrases.

• Follow basic business-letter format in composing your letters.
• When sending your cover letter/resume through email it should be sent as an attachment.
• Proofread your letters carefully for grammatical and typographical errors. Spell check finds only
  misspelled words, not misused words.
• Use good quality matching bond paper for your letter, resume, and envelopes in white or ivory.
• Single space paragraphs and double space between paragraphs.
• Do not exceed one page. Three to four good paragraphs are sufficient.
• When possible avoid using the generic “Dear Sir/Madam” in favor of “Dear Ms. Jones” or “Dear
  Mr. Smith.” It is especially risky to use “Dear Sir,” since both men and women make hiring
  decisions. When addressing females, use “Ms.”, not “Mrs.” or “Miss.”
• Employers will spot a “form letter” immediately; so take care to individualize your letter.
• Research the employer to be sure you demonstrate how your background, skills and
  abilities match the organization.
• Read the position description carefully for desired skills and qualifications.

Your Name
Your Street Address
City, State, Zip Code


Name of Contact Person
Street Address
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Ms., Mr., Dr. (etc):

Paragraph one: Introduce yourself.
       A. Who are you? Concentration?
                I am a _______ year __________major at ___________university.
       B. Why are you writing?
                Referred by_____, Came to know of the position through_____.
       C. Why are you interested in the position/company? Is it the culture, their approach? Be
          Specific and sum it up in one sentence.

Paragraph two (and three): Highlight your skills and the benefits you have to offer them. Emphasize
your interests in the company.
        A. Where did you develop the skill/attribute required for the position? Refer to job description
                   My internship with ______allowed me to develop my ________skills. Use previous
                    employment, school, or campus/community service activities
        B. List the specific accomplishments that demonstrate the skills required.
            My ____skills proved valuable in working with over 300 volunteers.
        D. Why should they hire you/What makes you unique?
                   You can offer—direct experience, equivalent experience/skill set, interest/education, etc.
                    How is what you have to offer relevant to the position?
        E. You can add additional aspects about the organization that make them unique and a good match
            to your background. I look forward to working to advance the success of this program. XYZ’s
            _____ are closely aligned with my interests and work I have done with____.

Closing paragraph: In closing, indicate your interest in discussing the position and request an
interview appointment. Thank the reader for his/her time and consideration.
        A. If requested address salary history or requirements.
                 Salary History: “As a student, my jobs to this point have been geared toward making
                 money to cover my educational expenses and gaining practical work experience.”
                 Salary Requirements: "My research indicates that a position such as the one described in
                 your advertisement typically pays $____ to $____. I would be willing to consider a salary
                 within that range, depending on the responsibilities and expectations of the position."
        B. Provide information about what your next step will be.
                 Follow-up phone call to make sure resume/cover letter were received, state date and time
                 Follow-up phone call to set up a time for an informational interview, state date and time


Your Name

Sample Application Cover Letter__ ________________________________________                               ____
Job Description: The Editorial intern will work with Executive Editor, researching and writing news and
at least one feature story that will be published online. Past interns have authored important reports on
precedent-setting trials, and the Smithsonian Institution. Selection of the topic for the feature story will be
based equally on the interests of the intern as well as the editorial needs of Geographic National Magazine.
Qualifications: Clarity of writing and strong organization skills are fundamental; our audience is well
educated, but non-specialist. A background in anthropology, archaeology, or an allied field is preferred,
but not necessary. In general, given our small staff size, the intern can expect to be given considerable

Alison Jacob
5554 S. Kimbark, Apt. 8
Chicago, IL 60637

February 20, 2003

Ms. Dorothy West
Internship Coordinator
Geographic National Magazine
500 North Dearborn, Suite 1200
Chicago, IL 60610-4901

Dear Ms. West:

I am writing to apply for the Editorial Internship posted on MonsterTrak. As a third year Anthropology
major at the University of Chicago, I have developed considerable experience in the publication of
anthropology material, and enjoy working to spread knowledge about anthropology to a wider audience.

My studies have covered ethnography, archaeology, recent events and ancient artifacts. The strong
emphasis on analyzing readings, and intensive writing of critiques and interpretations will be useful in
writing feature stories. During my internship at Museum of Natural History I helped with editing and
publication of the second edition of Exploring Anthropology. I also had the privilege of joining a team of
archaeologists to dig on the Lower North Shore of Quebec where I learned much about the archaeological
process. These experiences have succeeded in allowing me to develop a strong work ethic, organization
and writing skills, and broad anthropological interests, which I am eager to put to use at an outstanding
publication such as Geographic National Magazine.

I would appreciate the opportunity to talk with you further about this summer opportunity. Please feel free
to contact me at 773-551-2345 or with any questions.


Alison Jacob

Sample Application Letter__________________________________________
Job Description: If you’re a dynamic upcoming graduate looking for an intense and valuable introduction
to the equity research arena, the Equity Research Program may be for you. By working with one of our
top-ranked Senior Research Analysts, you’ll gain an in-depth understanding of company analysis as well
as the overall investment process. You will work on projects involving financial analysis and investigative
research. In addition you will develop financial models, work on forecasting and produce research reports.
Along with your day-to-day responsibilities you will be assigned industry-specific projects. We are
looking for highly motivated and creative individuals who have demonstrated academic achievement,
specifically finance, marketing, and accounting courses and have the ability to work independently and as
a member of a team. Strength in verbal and written communication and computer literacy is essential to all
that we do.

                                                Michael Clark

6345 S. Woodlawn
Chicago, IL 60637

February 20, 2003

Samantha Boss
Recruiting Coordinator
Merrill Lynch
1234 Career Ave.
Chicago, IL 60621

Dear Ms. Boss:

I am applying for the Equity Research Analyst position posted on MonsterTrak. In June I expect to
complete my Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics at The University of Chicago. After attending your
information session, I was particularly impressed by the firm’s emphasis and focus on operating more
efficiently as one entity. This not only better services and addresses client needs, but also allows its
employees the broadest exposure possible to all aspects of the financial world.

My internship with Credit Suisse was secured through cold calling, demonstrating my motivation and
willingness to take initiatives whenever necessary. The internship taught me a great deal about making
and maintaining contacts, and allowed me to utilize my natural attention to detail and organizational skills
in working independently with an extensive list of over fifty mutual funds. My analytical skills have been
sharpened through my extensive study of C++, which will also prove invaluable for the computer skills
required for this position.

Merrill Lynch’s team-oriented work ethic and equity research’s diverse nature combined with my
education and training makes this position a good fit. My resume is enclosed for your review. I would
welcome the opportunity to discuss the position and my qualifications further. I look forward to hearing
from you and thank you for your consideration.


Michael Clark

Sample Letter of Inquiry                         ____________________________________

John Smith
1212 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

January 13, 2003

Sean Sampson
Carson’s Pharmaceuticals
2345 N Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60620

Dear Mr. Sampson:

While researching possible employers in the field of pharmaceutical research, I became aware of your
company. I will be completing my bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences in June at The University of
Chicago and would like to inquire about entry level positions available within your Pharmaceutical Service

As you will see in the enclosed resume, I have been actively involved with various research projects and
have gained exposure to lab technique such as Polymerase Chain Reaction, which is actively used for
some of the research conducted in the Pharmaceutical Service Department. Through my internship
experience and other activities, I have strengthened my leadership, interpersonal and teamwork skills. I
would welcome the opportunity to put these skills, and my education, to use at Carson’s Pharmaceutical.

I will follow up with you in two weeks to set up a time when we can discuss my qualifications and any
opportunities that may be available. Thank you for your time and your consideration.

Thank You,

John Smith

At CAPS: Meet with a CAPS Career Counselor for a one-hour appointment or, for quick questions,
utilize walk-in hours. Call 773-702-7040 to make an appointment, or check our walk-in schedule online: We also have resume and cover
letter workshops throughout the year. Check our website for upcoming events.
On our Website:
Comprehensive information on how to write your cover letter and other job-seeking correspondence
includes samples and cover letter guide worksheet.
In the Library: We have resume and cover letter books in the job-search skills section. Look for books
with yellow labels marked COV. See the librarian or a CAPS counselor for assistance.

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