Composing 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, and to assess your writing skills.
Your cover letter should be clearly structured, and should answer the following questions:
Who are you?
Introduce yourself. State your major and year at Georgetown.
Why are you writing?
In the first few sentences, mention the title of the position you are applying for, 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 in the future unless you are directly asked to address this; instead, focus on what you can contribute to the company.
How are you qualified?
Highlight skills and specific achievements that demonstrate why you are qualified for the position, and use key terms from the opening that are clearly 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 expressing that you will call (e.g. within two weeks) to confirm that she has received your resume and cover letter (if you have their phone number and will follow up – don’t take 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 hand margin; you don’t need to indent your paragraphs.
- Match the font style and formatting of your resume to your cover letter.
- Proofread several times and ask friends to help!