University at Albany

Cover Letter Tips

You should always include a cover letter even when applying online or via email.

  • Many of the same tips for polishing your resume apply to cover letters as well. Read them
  • A cover letter needs to be confident without being arrogant.
  • Be brief and stay focused on what an employer asked for in the job posting. Never write more than one page.
  • Keep sentences short and to the point.
  • If you are mailing your cover letter use the same paper as your resume. Use resume bond paper in white, cream, or ivory color.
  • Make sure there are no grammatical errors in your letter. None. Get it checked by Career Services
  • Always mail a cover letter with your resume. Even if the posting says “send resume to…” include a cover letter.  If you are applying online, still send a cover letter. 
  • Your Cover Letter must convey enthusiasm and commitment.
  • When closing your letter, request an interview and state how you will follow up (phone call, email) and when you will do so.
  • Whenever possible, address the cover letter to a specific person by name and title.
  • Sign the letter in blue ink. It implies the letter is original. If not blue then use black.  Never use any other color on the cover letter.
  • Reflect your individuality, but avoid appearing too familiar, overbearing, humorous, or cute.
  • Focus on what you can do for the company, not what you hope to accomplish for yourself.
  • Show the employer that you've researched them and the position they posted. Be sincere in your praise, but don't overdo it!
  • Use simple, clear sentences. Don't try to impress the reader with unusual vocabulary or complicated sentence structures.
  • Addressing letters, "Dear Sir:" or "Dear Sirs:" is not appropriate as many readers today are women.
  • Don’t be overly creative with fonts and graphics. Business letters need to look conservative, not like a greeting card.
  • Don’t spoil the professional look by sending cover letters out in a handwritten envelope. Remember that much corporate mail gets sent with envelope attached. Make sure your envelope matches the professional look of your letter and resume.
  • Write each cover letter separately, even if you use reuse some of the text each time. Customize each letter with a few sentences that are specific to this job and this company.
Keep copies of everything you send, and follow up as you said you would.