Cover Letters

Why send a cover letter? Cover letters are an essential companion to your resume every time you send it out. It will:

  1. Introduce you to the reader and explain why your resume is on his/her desk.
  2. Make some vital connections between the position and your resume. 
  3. Give you an opportunity to further explain how your experiences listed on your resume are applicable to the specific school you are writing to. 
  4. Help create a positive impression of you provided that it is written with attention given to correct grammar, sentence structure, and spelling. 

Elements of the cover letter

There are essentially three parts to a cover letter:

Opening Paragraph is used to explain why you are writing. If you are responding to an advertised position, state what the position is and where you heard about it. If you are sending a letter of inquiry to an employer (no position has been advertised), state where you heard about the employer (from a networking contact, newspaper article, etc.) and perhaps, why you are interested in exploring opportunities with them.

Middle Paragraph(s) is your "selling" paragraph. This paragraph is all about making connections - connections between your resume and this employer's specific needs. Refer to your resume, but do not reiterate it. Rather, explain why the experiences you have listed would be valuable to this employer. This paragraph is also an excellent place to talk about some of the unique characteristics of your Mount Mercy education degree - number of hours in the classroom, etc. You may also use these paragraphs to highlight a specific interest in the type of school, an interest and willingness to get involved in extracurricular activities, and so on. Always try to answer, "What makes me unique?"

Closing Paragraph includes a phrase to affirm your interest in the position and/or school. Also indicate your interest in setting up an interview. Finally, always thank the reader for his/her time and consideration. Some general professional pointers

  1. Check and double-check for any errors - and have others check it too! 
  2. Use a laser printer to print your cover letters  
  3. Use the same high-quality, bond paper that you used for your resume and get matching envelopes too. 
  4. Personalize your cover letter — address it to a particular person and highlight experience that relates directly to that school's needs.  
  5. Use standard business letter formatting:
    Center the letter on the page
    Start the letter with your address immediately followed by the date
    Hit return four times and type the employer name and information
    Hit return twice and type "Dear :" (always use colon)
    Hit return twice here and between each paragraph
    Hit return twice after last paragraph and type "Sincerely," (always a comma)
    Hit return four times and type your name 
  6. Sign your letter with black ink.