Skip to main content
Get Urgent Help


Cover Letters: Explained

A cover letter or letter of application accompanies a resume when you apply for a position. This should be tailored to the position and highlight your skills and experiences as well as your interest in the position.

This is your chance to show your enthusiasm and highlight some qualities that may not be readily present on your resume. Show your individuality and make an impression before a recruiter sees your resume.

Contents of a Cover Letter

There are certain elements that should be included in an effective cover letter.

  • Make sure to include your complete contact information at the top of the letter. See the Model of a Cover Letter PDF example to see how to format this correctly.

  • Address the letter to the person who has the power and ability to hire you. Take time to look up a contact via the organization's website or in the posting. Avoid sir, madam, or to whom it may concern.

  • Keep the letter to one page and avoid using too many 'I' statements.

  • State the position to which you are applying.

  • Indicate how you learned about the position.

  • Target your letter and focus on the organization's needs. Use key information included in the position, research the organization using their website, and use one of the online resources in the Career Resource Center to research organization specifics.

  • Highlight your qualifications in relation to the position description.

  • Draw on your experiences and site-specific examples.

  • Do not repeat what is already on your resume.

  • Incorporate keywords included in the job description.

  • Let the reader know how you will contribute to the position.

  • Restate your interest in the position.

  • Push for a follow-up and indicate your ability to be available for an interview.

  • Make follow-up easy and restate your phone number and email address along with the best times to be contacted.

  • Express appreciation for their time and consideration.

  • Close with sincerely, respectfully, etc.

  • Use a handwritten signature or a digital version of one.

  • Include your typed formal name below your signature.

Formatting a Cover Letter

Make sure to use complete sentences and paragraphs when crafting your cover letter. Bullet points included in the Model of a Cover Letter below are designed to show content outlines and show not be used as a way to format a formal letter.

Sample Cover Letter

Use these samples to get started formatting your own cover letter. Make sure to tailor each and every cover letter to maximize the effect.

Review, Review, Review

Take time to draft and review your cover letter several times before using it in an application. Meeting with a career counselor to review your letter helps to make sure your points are concise and easy to understand while helping to avoid grammatical and spelling errors.


101 Bank of America Career Services Center
University Park, PA 16802


Career Guide Online

Schedule a virtual career counseling appointment 
Search opportunities on Nittany Lion Careers 
Use career resources onlineFind drop-in career counseling hours