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Center For Academic Excellence

CAE | Cover Letter

Cover letters introduce you and your qualifications to a potential employer for a particular job. They highlight things about you that are unique, the particular experiences that make your application different from all others. In them you want to include your greatest strengths, which can be done by emphasizing and expanding some of the items on your resume or CV.

  • In choosing those items, read the job description carefully and tailor your letter to your audience, your future employer.
  • Find out all you can about the company, hospital, or practice to which you are applying—the philosophy, emphasis, research interests, staff, clientele, and location. Subtly insert this knowledge in your letter.
  • Go to any lengths to find out the name of the person to whom you are writing.
  • Remember that your job as a writer is to “show, not tell” who and what you are. What this really means is that it is your job to create scenes through strong nouns and verbs and examples and let the reader deduce the adjectives that describe you. If you want your reader to conclude that you are “industrious,” “lively,” or “innovative,” tell incidents in which you shine in those areas.
  • Always begin with the specifics of how you learned about the position. For example, “Please accept this letter as part of my application for the position of Physician Assistant advertised on Sunday, February 28, 1999, in the Post and Courier.”
  • After you explain your education and experience, probably in two separate paragraphs, conclude with a paragraph that might begin, “Enclosed is my resume.”
  • End the letter with a request for an interview, giving specific information about how you can be reached or when you will contact him or her. You might include the best time of day to reach you and your phone number.
  • Keep the letter short, but don’t sacrifice important information just to do so.

Developed by
Jennie Ariail, Ph.D. - Director
Tom Smith, Ph.D. - Associate Director

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