Cover Letters/Letters of Interest

Cover letters or letters of interest are the letters that accompany a job application, either in response to a job listing or inquiring about the possibility of unadvertised work.  They provide a bridge between your resume and the specific employer.  Don't overlook the importance of this valuable part of the job application!


General considerations

OCS staff are always happy to review cover letter drafts.  When applying to jobs through Symplicity, you are not required to upload a cover letter unless the employer requests one, but you may want to if there is key information that may be crucial to their hiring decision (geographic ties) that is not already reflected in your resume.

For direct mailings, try to keep the cover letter tailored to the employer.  Avoid repeating text that makes the letter seem like a mass mailing.

Formatting tips

The following formatting example is meant to demonstrate the basic structure of a cover letter.  Some students opt to use a customized header (typically the same as found on their resume).  But again, we caution you to keep it simple.  Don't let the added features distract from the content and purpose of the letter.

Cover Letter header

  • Use business letter format
  • Your address should be at the top (center or tab to right for less formal style)
  • Skip one line, insert the date
  • Skip one line, insert employer contact name and full address
  • Skip one line, insert salutation and colon
  • Skip one line, start body of letter
  • Be concise - 3 to 4 paragraphs max
  • Paragraphs can be indented (friendlier style) or block

Cover letter body


Contacting an employer by e-mail

Do not simply cut and paste your cover letter into the body of an e-mail when contacting a prospective employer.  Instead use a shorter, more direct message (See Sample E-Mail).  Make sure to attach your application documents in PDF format to avoid any formatting changes between computer programs.

Public interest cover letters

See the Public Interest Career Guide for excellent cover letter examples for public interest opportunities.