A cover letter is submitted with your résumé to introduce yourself to potential employers. It will be the first thing employers see when they are considering you for a position and will give them an overview of your skills and qualifications.
A cover letter should be concise. Typically they are three or four paragraphs long and never more than one page in length. Remember: You do not need to include all of your most important skills in the cover letter because that is what your résumé is for.
A personally-addressed cover letter is necessary if you want to make a good impression. Do not address your cover letter "To Whom it May Concern" because it may very well become lost in a pile of other anonymously-addressed applications. Instead, find out the name and title of the person accepting the résumés and address your cover letter accordingly.
The first paragraph should be a brief introduction that includes your name and credentials, the job title for which you are applying, and where you found the job posting. If you found the position on a job search engine, include the reference number in this paragraph. If you were referred by someone, include his or her name.
The following paragraph(s) will highlight a few key skills or assets you bring to the employer that are directly related to the position. Review the job description and incorporate the language used in the posting. Also, research the organization and tailor the letter to its specific needs, projects, mission, or other key points. Do not feel as if you need to summarize all of your skills here because a cover letter is an introduction to the employer; your résumé will provide the necessary information about your work history.
In the last paragraph, thank the employer for reviewing your résumé and request an interview. Also, be sure to include an action statement on how you will follow up with the submission of your résumé by providing a date in which you will call to inquire about your application.
Always include a cover letter with your résumé! A cover letter is an essential part of the application process so be sure to prepare one for every résumé submission. Even if you know the employer or were personally asked to send in a résumé for review, include a cover letter.
In addition, your cover letter should be tailored to each specific employer and reflect the thoughtfulness and time you spent preparing it. Do not submit a generic cover letter because employers will be less-likely to take your application seriously.
University of Michigan
School of Social Work
1080 South University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106