Writing a Cover Letter
Most job positions will ask candidates to send a cover letter and a resume—both of these are important documents in your job search. Many employers will read your cover letters carefully, particularly if they are looking to hire someone with good writing skills. A cover letter is your chance to make an argument as to why you are the best person for a particular job.
It’s important to write individual cover letters for each job to which you apply. It’s true that writing good cover letters is time consuming. Employers, however, can easily recognize a form letter that has been sent out blindly to many employers.
Before writing your letter, take a close look at the job posting. What is this employer looking for? Where are the points of connection between you and this job? What can you do for this employer? Be specific about your experience and your interest in the position. Think carefully about your audience.
A cover letter for a non-academic position should be succinct—just one page. The first paragraph of your letter should state which position you are applying for and how you heard about the job. It should also set up the rest of the letter by outlining why your background makes you a good fit. The second paragraph gives more details about your qualifications and achievements, while the final paragraph should again emphasize your interest in and enthusiasm for the organization.
Sample Cover Letters
- University of Illinois Career Center sample cover letters for non-academic positions
- Harvard’s Graduate School for Arts and Science’s Office of Career Services sample resumes and non-academic cover letters
- “How To Write a Cover Letter” from LiveCareer
- “What Does a Good Cover Letter Look Like?” from Ask a Manager
- “What Makes a Great Cover Letter, According to Companies?” from Smashing Magazine—the article comes from a tech industry perspective, so some of the advice may not be appropriate for all fields
- “How to Write a Cover Letter for Research Jobs” informational brochure from British website Jobs.ac.uk
- “I’ve Read More Than 300 Cover Letters, and This Is How I Decide If They’re Good or Bad Within Three Minutes” from Forbes