Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

Cover Letter Guide

The cover letter (or letter of interest) is a document commonly required with your resume and employment application. The cover letter introduces your experiences and relevant skills to the employer. It is advantageous to include information about yourself that won’t be listed in a resume (i.e., completed two programs to master HTML and Python).  The information should demonstrate that you are match for the company and the position.  It is important to emphasize the specific reasons for applying to this particular company.  Think about the mission and culture of the company that piqued your interest and eloquently state this in the cover letter.

Liberal Arts Career Services has developed a cover letter template that includes recommendations for content and formatting to assist you with targeting the document to a specific employer and opportunity. When you complete a draft of your cover letter, visit Liberal Arts Career Services for assistance to ensure that your content highlights your talents and abilities.

Schedule an appointment with a Career Coach or use our drop-in hours. Don't forget to print out and bring your resume and cover letter to your meeting with a Career Coach!

Download our Cover Letter Writing Guide that includes a sample resume and download our Cover Letter Template to get started. In addition, first-year students may find this sample cover letter helpful.

Tailoring Your Cover Letter

Increase your competitiveness by tailoring your cover letter and showing the employer that you have done the research, understand the position and want this particular job at this particular organization. Get help tailoring your cover letter with these tools:

  • Job Posting Analysis: Use this tool to learn how to analyze a job posting and identify the key elements/key words to craft a strong, targeted and personal cover letter.
  • SWOT Analysis: Use this tool to help evaluate your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats to help strengthen your cover letter.

Cover Letter Guidelines

The guidelines listed below are based on employer feedback received regarding student cover letters. Download a copy of our Cover Letter Guidelines, which includes a cover letter sample. For help with your cover letter, visit our drop-in hours or schedule an appointment with a Career Coach.

Download a copy of these Cover Letter Guidelines, which includes a cover letter sample.

  • Length: One Page
  • Font Style: Times New Roman, Arial, Garamond or Verdana (Tip: use same font style on resume)
  • Text Size: 10, 11 or 12 (Tip: full page of text, minimize white space at top and bottom)
  • Format: All information is left justified; utilize returns between paragraphs (Tip: do not indent paragraphs)
Cover Letter Sections
  • Heading: Copy and paste resume heading (name and contact information) to the top of cover letter (Tip: brand your application)
  • Employer Information: Include recruiter name, title, department, mailing address. (Tip: utilize contact information provided in job/internship description or research the employer web site if it’s not provided in application instructions)
  • Opening Paragraph: Reference job/internship and employer and how you learned of the opportunity. Discuss your education, relevant coursework, and explain your interest/motivation to pursue this position. (Tip: target the letter to the employer and discuss learning objectives for internship)
  • Middle Paragraphs: Include 2-3 middle paragraphs focused on a specific experience and/or skill (Tip: connect your experience to the employer and opportunity) that makes you a strong candidate for the position. Discuss paid, volunteer, leadership, student organizations, classroom/course, and internship experiences. (Tip: provide detailed examples and quantify information)
  • Concluding Paragraph: Restate your interest in the opportunity and end the cover letter with a thank you statement.
  • Valediction/Close: Sincerely, Your Name

Creative Cover Letters

Do you have an interesting story that relates directly to the position you're applying for? If so, consider using the cover letter to tell it. A great way to use your story is in the opening paragraph. Rather than telling the recruiter that you are applying to X job, tell them a short story (one brief paragraph) that captures their attention and makes them want to know more. Your subsequent paragraphs can include the traditional details of which position you're applying for, how you hope to grow in this position, how you will contribute to the company and why it is you are applying to this company specifically. 

Below are two cover letter sample openings provided by NPR (Hey, Students: 5 Things That Are Wrong With Your Cover Letter). Which of these make you want to learn more about the candidate?

I am applying for the position of NPR Fall Intern. I believe that my strong interest in education topics and background in research qualify me for this internship. My undergraduate and postgraduate academic careers have taught me to critically analyze and synthesize large amounts of data quickly. I also have experience conducting research in corporate and office settings.

Or this:

The first time I ever went on live television, I was in Lahore, Pakistan. By the time I ended up in Pakistan this past January, being on camera wasn't new to me. I had several years of on-camera experience under my belt traveling around the world with an educational travel show for kids. When I lived in Los Angeles, I spent my hard-earned bartending money on TV hosting classes for a year.

If you have a story but you need help translating it to a cover letter, schedule an appointment with us for help!

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    University of Texas at Austin
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    2304 Whitis Ave. Stop G6200
    Austin, Texas 78712-1508