Writing a Cover Letter
The goal of your cover letter is to complement your resume. Employers use cover letters to determine your interest in the position and company, as well as to assess your written communication skills.
Your cover letter should be clearly structured and answer the following questions:
Who are you?
Introduce yourself. Include your major and year at Georgetown.
Why are you writing?
In the first few sentences, mention the specific job title, if you know it, and how you heard about the position opening. Be concise.
Why are you interested in the position?
Without getting too personal, relate something about the job to your own interests or experiences to show the employer that you have a genuine interest. Do not focus on what this job will do for you unless you are directly asked to answer that question. Instead, focus on what you can contribute to the company.
How are you qualified?
Highlight skills and achievements that demonstrate why you are qualified for the position, and use key terms from the description that are relevant to your background.
What is your next step?
In closing, you should request an interview, with a strong reminder as to why the employer should meet with you. Also, consider adding a statement saying that you will follow up (e.g., within two weeks) to confirm that she has received your resume and cover letter. Skip this step if they’ve requested that you do not contact them.
Cover Letter Tips:
- Customize the cover letter for a specific employer and job description. Templates are easy to spot and indicate you don’t really care about this opportunity in particular.
- Address the letter to a specific individual. If no name was given in the job announcement, call the organization to learn who is on the hiring team. If all else fails, use “Dear Hiring Manager:” or “Dear Search Committee:” (please note that those are colons, not commas).
- Isolate three or four skills that you possess that are relevant to the position and mention concrete examples from your resume that demonstrate these skills.
- Be brief! An ideal cover letter will be three to four concise paragraphs and only be one page.
- Align all text on the left margin. Don’t indent your paragraphs.
- Match the font style and formatting of your resume to your cover letter.
- Proofread several times and ask friends to help!
Cover Letter Formatting
A cover letter should first and foremost represent you and your experiences in an authentic way. This includes writing style and formatting. However, this outline may give you a place to start. Also, be sure to have someone else review your document for content and flow!
Heading (Ensure this matches the heading you use on your resume as it creates a personal brand. This should include your present address, city, state, zip code, phone number, and email address.)
(Align all text on the left margin.)
Employer’s Name (This can also be the name of the recruiter, or director of the department.)
City, State Zip Code
Dear Employer’s Name: (It is important to personalize your cover letter by using an actual name. Utilize Handshake, LinkedIn, or call the organization directly to find this information.)
(First paragraph) Introduce yourself. Indicate the reason you are writing, the specific position for which you are applying, and how you heard about the opening. Briefly express why you are interested in the position, or why you are applying to this company in particular. If you are inquiring about jobs in general, and if no specific opening exists, indicate your interest in career opportunities within your desired field. You may also find it helpful to write a “thesis statement” as your final sentence, which will guide the reader through the rest of your document.
(Second paragraph) Highlight your education and/or skills. This could mean including information on your major, research projects, relevant coursework, study abroad, or other Georgetown experiences. Be sure to connect these highlights to the position you are applying for. Keep in mind, these do not have to be content matches but can include skills such as communication, writing, critical analysis, quantitative, etc.
While some students will focus the entirety of this paragraph on education, consider whether or not this is a good fit for you. If it makes more sense to first highlight professional accomplishments or other activities because it will make you a stronger candidate, then it is important to do so.
(Third paragraph) Highlight your professional accomplishments. This could include paid positions, internships, volunteer work, extracurricular activities, athletics, etc. Look at your resume, and choose three or four achievements that demonstrate skills the employer is looking for. Look back at the job description for key terms, and think about where you have demonstrated that qualification or skill.
(Fourth paragraph) The closing. Refer the reader to your resume. Request an interview (if appropriate) and give a final reason or summary statement about why the employer should consider you as a candidate. Thank the employer for considering you for the position.
Your signature (If submitting your cover letter online, you don’t need to include a signature)
Your typed name
Download our sample cover letter to see a properly formatted, well-written example of a successful cover letter.Download a sample cover letter