University of Wisconsin – River Falls
Career Services – 24 East Hathorn Hall
There are five types of cover letters used during the job search process: application letters (serve as an introduction to your resume), prospecting letters (an inquiry about possible vacancies or a request for an informational interview), thank you letters (a follow-up to an interview), acceptance letters (to accept a job offer), or rejection letters (used to thank an employer for a job offer, but to reject it). Many job seekers concentrate their efforts on developing a resume, but dedicate little time to writing effective letters. While a resume is important, a letter is an opportunity to further market your qualifications. And both the resume and cover letter provide the employer with a first impression of your communication skills.
This type of letter is used to apply for specific openings and accompanies your resume. It gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself to an employer and provides a link between the job, your skills, and experience.
The application letter should inform the reader why he or she is receiving the resume. If you have already spoken to them by phone or in person, note this in your letter (preferably in the first paragraph!) Hiring officials talk to many applicants each day. Do not assume they will remember you. Should give detailed information about your qualifications without repeating information from your resume verbatim. Instead, state the value of your experiences, education, or personal qualities. Ask yourself “What have I learned from these experiences?” Then relate this to the skills you can provide to the employer. Emphasize what you can do for the employer, not how you will personally benefit from being hired for the job.
When applying for a specific position, your letter should reflect the qualifications listed in the actual job posting. The closer the match between the employer’s requirements and your background, the more likely you will be contacted for an interview.
Letters should be professional, yet written creatively enough to attract the attention of the reader.
Letters of Interest/Prospecting Letters
Letters of interest are sent to organizations to investigate possible job vacancies. State your reason for inquiry in the letter. How did you find out about the organization? What prompted you to send a letter? Did you receive a referral from someone who works at the organization? The central paragraphs will be much the same as an application letter. Provide examples of your qualifications to persuade the employer to consider you for a position. It is important to follow these letters with a phone call, since you may never receive a response if no positions exist. In your letter mention the time frame in which you will be contacting the person. Then make sure you follow-up as promised. Allow 5-10 business days before you contact them.
We Build Success
The purpose of this letter is to get your enclosed resume read and to generate interviews. Use this type of letter in response to specific job advertisements and vacancy announcements. Your strategy is to demonstrate that your qualifications fit the requirements of the position. Study the position description carefully and decide on one or more themes – education, experience, interests, responsibility, etc. – that show persuasively how well you fit the position. Link major job dimensions with your related past performance and experience.
1298 Sixth Street
Park Forest, IL 53409
July 18, 2003
Ms. Jill Smith
Manager of Human Resources
Great Lakes Industries, Inc.
2900 Virginia Boulevard
Chicago, IL 53422
State why you are writing,
identify the position for which
you would like to be
considered, and indicate how
you heard of the position.
Dear Ms. Smith:
Please accept this letter and...
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