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Writing Cover Letters

Whenever you send a resume by mail, be sure it is accompanied by a cover letter. The cover letter provides you with an opportunity to identify the position for which you are applying, highlight and expand on relevant information from your resume, discuss relevant information that is not on your resume, discuss skills and strengths that match with the employer's needs, and indicate your interest in the position and in the organization.

The cover letter is usually brief and should be tailored to the position for which you are applying. It is not a reiteration of your resume but a personal presentation of your skills, abilities, and interests as they relate to the position. In the cover letter, you can expand on class projects, course work, volunteer experience, and work experience to demonstrate your ability to do the job. When preparing you cover letter, it should be word-processed using standard business format and duplicated on the same paper used for your resume.

We recommend that you address the letter to a specific individual rather than using generic salutations such as "To whom it may concern" or "Dear Sir or Madam". If specific contact information is not available, you may leave off the salutation (see sample).

In the opening paragraph, state the reason for your letter, including the job for which you are applying. Also indicate how you became aware of the job or employer. In the middle paragraph(s), discuss your education and experience as it relates to the position. You may also include information about why you'd like to work for them. In the closing paragraph, indicate your interest in an interview, that you look forward to hearing from them or that you will contact them. You may also provide information about how they can reach you.

Reproducing Your Cover letter

Before you prepare the final version of your cover letter have several people review it to proofread and suggest possible improvements. People may have differing viewpoints on your cover letter. Incorporate only those suggestions that are comfortable for you. Your cover letter should be reflective of who you are. We encourage you to make an appointment and have your cover letter critiqued at Advising & Career Services.

Prepare a final version of your cover letter on a computer with a laser-quality printer. Be sure your cover letter is free of typographical and spelling errors. Do not rely on your computer spell check function to catch all errors; read it thoroughly and carefully.

Print your cover letter on the same high-quality paper you used for your resume. Acceptable colors are white, off-white, ivory, or light grey.

Sample Cover Letter Requesting an On-Campus Interview
Do not copy this sample letter. It is crucial that you write your own cover letter.

1234 N.E. 35th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97212

October 5, 200X


Jane Doe, Director of Human Resources
Grant Thornton
1234 S.W. Smith
Portland, Oregon 97201

Dear Ms. Doe:

I would like to be considered for an on-campus interview with Grant Thornton at Portland State University. My education and experience have prepared me well for a career in public accounting and I am submitting my resume, unofficial transcripts, and application for your review.

I have an undergraduate degree in economics and will receive a post baccalaureate certificate in accounting in June 200X. Through coursework, I have gained a strong understanding of accounting principles and practices. I have successfully completed intermediate and advanced tax and auditing courses. My accounting GPA is 3.7.

Currently, I am working as a payroll specialist for Hollywood Entertainment and I am responsible for the payroll processing for 60-stores in three states. I utilize communication and problem solving skills to resolve any pay-related issues with store managers. I coordinate all terminations with Employee Relations and finalize employee files accordingly. I maintain vacation/sick balances, calculate taxes and benefits for manual checks, and reconcile discrepancy reports.

As a teller for US Bank, I utilized my strong interpersonal and communication skills to provide excellent customer service. I conducted financial transactions (deposits, withdrawals, advances, and payments) and promoted the sale of bank products and services through sales referrals. I also helped train and orient new staff.

In addition to my paid work experience, I am currently serving as the Parent Teacher Association treasurer for Ainsworth Elementary. As treasurer, I deposit and disburse checks, maintain accurate financial records, and generate quarterly reports. I also serve as a member of the Ainsworth Elementary Foundation Board and I am actively involved in fundraising.

I am very interested in talking with you about working as a staff accountant for Grant Thornton. I look forward to hearing from you.


[Your signature]

Gina Collins


Sample Letter of Application
Do not copy this sample letter. It is crucial that you write your own cover letter.

11424 S.E. Taylor
Portland, Oregon 97233

July 3, 200X


Ms. Kathleen Cook
Sales Manager
American Manufacturing Co.
124 S.E. Third Street
Portland, Oregon 97027

Dear Ms. Cook:

I am interested in applying for the sales representative position that is posted through the Portland State University Advising & Career Services' database, PSU CareerConnect.

I feel that my background qualifies me in several ways. My theater arts experience has provided me with strong communication skills that would allow me to make effective sales presentations. Additionally, as a speakers board chairperson, I assumed responsibility for planning and scheduling speakers, negotiating contracts, and supervising promotional campaigns. While in college, I directed and produced three plays where I motivated, persuaded, and communicated effectively with others. I believe these skills will enable me to be a successful salesperson.

I am very interested in working for your firm. I know that you have an excellent reputation for training new sales representatives and that you have strong career development program. I met your District Sales Manager in February at the Portland State University Career Information Day and he indicated that your company seeks highly motivated and energetic people for your sales force. I think that I meet those qualifications and would like to have an opportunity to meet with you to discuss my background. I can be reached at (503)555-1234 and look forward to hearing from you.


[Your signature]

Susan A. Postern

Sample Letter of Application
Do not copy this sample letter. It is crucial that you write your own cover letter.

9876 S.W. Maple Street
Portland, Oregon 97222

October 24, 200X


Human Resources Department
Blinn Telecommunications
5432 N.W. Thurber
Portland, Oregon 97201

I am writing to express my interest in the human resource generalist position that was advertised in's jobs database on October 22, 2000. My qualifications closely match the requirements outlined in the job announcement and I am enclosing my resume for your consideration.

In December, I will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Portland State University, Portland, Oregon. My major has prepared me well for a career in human resources. I have completed courses in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Employee Development, Personnel Psychology, and the Psychology of Work Motivation. As part of the Performance Appraisal and Feedback course, I helped a small business complete job analyses. I also researched and developed a performance appraisal system.

I am currently working as a personnel coordinator for the State Office for Services for Children and Families. I provide all technical support to staff and managers relating to personnel functions. This includes processing all personnel actions and reviewing forms for completeness and accuracy. I also help managers recruit for open positions by generating letters to applicants and scheduling interviews.

I believe that I possess the skills necessary to succeed as a human resource generalist with Blinn Telecommunications. I have excellent communication and problem solving skills, plus I am able to work effectively on a team as well as independently. I am also able to multitask with attention to accuracy and detail. My language skills include fluency in English and Korean.

I am very interested in working for Blinn Telecommunications as a human resource generalist. I look forward to hearing from you.


[Your signature]

Soon Park