"L" from the GOALS program logo

A cover letter is the first thing employers see when sifting though applicants, making it just as important as your resume.

While each cover letter should be unique to each position, there are certain standards for content and organization. Each paragraph of your cover letter will serve a specific purpose. Use the following information to develop your cover letter and remember that the CDC offers cover letter critiquing.

Writing a Cover Letter

The opening paragraph should state why you have sent your materials. When you are responding to a specific posting you should reference the posting and how you became aware of it. This is also where you would name drop if you were referred to the posting by another employee of the company.

The second paragraph is about you. This is where you will tell the employer how you are qualified for the position. You can mention specific achievements and skills that are relevant to the position. After reading this paragraph, the employer should be curious about your resume and all of your achievements and qualifications.

The third paragraph will talk about how you are a good fit with the company. In this paragraph you can show how much you know about the company and their goals. Match their goals with your accomplishments in order to make it clear to the employer why you should be considered for the position you are applying for.

The fourth paragraph of your cover letter is where you wrap everything up. You should tell the employer what action you are going to take next (such as following up and a time frame). You may include your phone number in this paragraph as away to be contacted for additional information.

Here are a few additional things to remember:

  • Every resume you send out should have a cover letter
  • Each cover letter should be tailored to the position you are applying for
  • Cover letters should be addressed to a specific person
  • This is your chance to demonstrate your ability to write clearly and coherently

Remember, your cover letter is your first impression on employers. The CDC offers cover letter critiquing.

Tools for Cover Letters


Cover Letter Guidelines (Word)
Cover Letter Sample (Word)

Additional Resources