Cover Letter Guidelines


Local Address (optional)

Phone Number • Email Address

Portfolio Link and/or LinkedIn Profile [1] [2]


Date [3]



Contact’s Name (if known)

Contact’s Title (if known)



City, State Zip


Dear Mr. / Ms.  ___________, OR Dear Hiring Manager or Search Committee, (if name unknown)


OPENING Paragraph [4]

  • Clearly state the exact position you are applying for using the same title listed in the job description
  • Include how you learned about the position and/or company (“Name drop” if someone referred you)
  • Capture the reader’s attention by displaying the knowledge you have gained from your research about the organization and its mission
  • Briefly describe & connect why you are interested in working for the organization and doing this type of work – remember to focus on what you can do for them, not what they/this position can do for you
  • End the paragraph by summarizing why you feel you are qualified before leading into the body paragraph(s)

BODY Paragraph(s) – Typically 1-2 paragraphs

  • Clearly state your educational background including: University name – Degree – Major – Graduation date
  • Describe & connect college activities, work experience, and skills you have gained relevant to the position
  • Illustrate through specific examples how you will be an asset to the organization/role
  • Use key words from the job description to describe your experience, focusing directly on the desired skills and qualifications of the position [5]

CLOSING Paragraph

  • Express your interest in an opportunity to interview
  • State that you have also enclosed your resume with additional information if you’d like
  • Invite the employer to contact you by including your phone number &  e-mail address
  • Show appreciation by thanking the employer for their time and consideration



Your Signature[7]

Your Typed Name

  1. Contact info should appear the same way on all three of your application documents
  2. Leave one space between your contact info & the date
  3. Leave two spaces between the date & recipient's address
  4. Write your letter in BLOCK format (no indented paragraphs)
  5. Body paragraphs should "connect the dots" between the skills you have & those you are seeking
  6. Leave 3-4 lines blank for your signature if manually signing
  7. Copy and paste an electronic signature or use a script font to sign your letter


School of Human Ecology Undergraduate Career Guide Copyright © by University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Human Ecology Advising & Career Center. All Rights Reserved.

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