Formatting Your Cover Letter

A cover letter should 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. Be sure to have someone else review your document for you. Others will often find mistakes that you miss.

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 e-mail address.)
(Align all text on the left margin.)

Date

Employer’s Name (This can also be the name of the recruiter, or head of the search committee.)
Title
Organization Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code

Dear Employer’s Name: (Use Hoya Career Connection, LinkedIn, or call the organization directly to find this information.)

(First paragraph) Introduce yourself. Tell the reader why 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 in 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 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 skills, or any other skills you think are relevant. You need not focus this entire paragraph on your education. If it makes more sense to highlight your professional accomplishments or other activities because they will make you a stronger candidate, then do so.

(Third paragraph) Highlight your professional accomplishments. This includes paid positions, internships, volunteer work, extracurricular activities, athletics, or anything else that you think is relevant to the position. 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 ask yourself where you have demonstrated that qualification or skill.

(Fourth paragraph) The closing. Refer the reader to your enclosed or attached resume. Request an interview if appropriate and give a final reason or summary statement about why the employer should consider you as a candidate. You may include a statement saying you will follow up with the employer within a specific timeframe, unless they requested that you not contact them. Always thank the employer for considering you for the position.

Sincerely,
Your written signature (If submitting online, you do not need to sign the cover letter)
Your typed name

Download our sample cover letter to see a properly formatted, well-written example of a successful cover letter.