A cover letter is an important tool to use when applying for a job because it:
- Introduces you to the prospective employer
- Highlights your enthusiasm for the position
- Describes your specific skills and qualifications for the job or internship, and clearly explains why you are a good fit
- Confirms your availability to start a new position
You should always include a cover letter when applying for a job unless you are specifically told not to by the employer. We recommend that you write a cover letter (aka letter of intent) after you have drafted and tailored your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) for a particular job description. For academic faculty and teaching positions, see cover letter instructions in Masters, Ph.D.'s and Postdocs section. When applying online and limited to uploading one document, you can create a single PDF document that includes both your resume and cover letter.
What to Include in a Cover Letter
Use the cover letter template and planner to get started. When drafting your cover letter, keep the following DO’s and DON’Ts in mind:
- Limit the cover letter to one page if possible, unless applying to academic faculty, teaching or research positions.
- Use the same font and formatting in the cover letter as you use in your resume.
- You might also want to use the same header in both a cover letter and resume. See header formatting examples.
- If providing a printed copy, use the same type of paper for both your cover letter and resume. Resume paper can be purchased at the UC Davis Bookstore or at an office supply store.
- Many tech companies prefer the cover letter not be attached, but uploaded as text in an email with the resume attached.
- Use formal, professional language in a cover letter. This is true when sending your cover letter as text in an email (above point).
- Personalize each cover letter to the specific position you are applying to.
- Address your cover letter to a specific person or the hiring manager whenever possible. If you don’t know their name, use one of the following examples:
- "Dear Hiring Manager,"
- "Dear [insert department here] Hiring Team,"
- "Dear Recruiter, "
- “Dear Search Committee Chair and Committee Members:” (used for academic teaching positions)
- "To Whom It May Concern: " Note, this last one uses a “:” not a “,”
- Check for typos, proper grammar and accuracy.
- Use spellcheck, but do not rely on it to catch all errors.
- Have multiple people review your application materials.
- Make an appointment with an ICC adviser to review your application materials before you apply.
- Unless told explicitly not to, you should always include a cover letter in your application.
- Don’t use text abbreviations or emoticons if you are using email.
- Don’t be too wordy or write just to fill the entire page.
- Don’t submit a generic “one size fits all” cover letter; tailor your cover letter to fit each position. Thus, none of your cover letters will be exactly the same, though a lot of content will be similar in each.
- Don’t repeat or summarize your resume in your cover letter. Instead, focus the cover letter on your enthusiasm for the job, excitement about working with that organization, to highlight unique skills that make you qualified for the position and a good fit for the employer.
- Don’t overuse adjectives or superlatives, especially subjective ones (e.g. “You are the best company in the world” or “I am the most hardworking student intern you will ever meet.”).
- Quantify when possible. "I've helped organize three club events, including two successful initiatives attended by 25 people" is a better descriptor then "I've helped organize several club events, including a couple successful initiatives attended by many people."
- Don’t exaggerate your skills or experience.
- Don’t use UC Davis letterhead, logo, or UC seal in your cover letter. [NOTE: For graduate students and postdocs, some departments allow use of department letterhead for tenure-track faculty applications. Check with your department before using.]
Cover Letter Examples for Students and Recent Graduates
The following cover letters and cover letter templates are designed especially for high school students, as well as for college students and recent graduates seeking employment.
If you're a student or a new grad, you may not have much experience in the workforce. This can make building a resume and writing a cover letter challenging. After all, if you haven't worked previously, what information can you include in these two documents?
What to Include in Your Cover Letter
Fortunately, on-the-job experience is not the only thing that shows your abilities. You can also mention volunteer work, academic achievements, participation in clubs or activities, and internships. Your academic background is also an asset. Include details that are relevant to the position you want (use the job description as your guide to the qualities and training the employer seeks).
If you are an honors student with a GPA higher than 3.5, it is a good idea to mention this on a cover letter as well, along with any honors societies you have been inducted into.
Another things you can mention are soft skills – interpersonal “people” skills like creative thinking, communication, team work, or time management that will help you to adapt easily to the people and clients or customers you will be working with.
Your goal in this cover letter is to show how you would be an asset to the company, describing the skills you bring that would allow you to perform well in the position.
Below, you'll find a list of student cover letters, listed by position and level of experience, to help you develop your own cover letter.
Sample Student / Recent Graduate Cover Letters
Cover Letter Templates
Before you can begin writing your cover letter, it's important to know the guidelines governing these letters.
Unlike a casual email to a friend, there are set standards for how to greet recipients, organize the letter's content, and much more.
That's where templates can help: they allow you to know what information to put where, and they help you format your letter correctly. Review the templates below:
Student and Recent Graduate Cover Letter Samples
This list of cover letters includes both general examples that will help you format your letter, as well as sample cover letters used to apply for specific positions, such as roles as a nanny or a marketing assistant.
Do not copy these sample letters — instead, use them as a guide to help you know what kind of information to include, and how to format your letter.
Cover Letter Writing Tips
Cover Letter Writing Guide
This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to write a cover letter, including what to include in the letter, how to write it, and the proper cover letter format.
Plus, find out about how to write a targeted cover letter and browse through additional cover letter samples and examples.
Cover Letter Tips
Here are cover letter tips and techniques for writing top notch cover letters to send with your resume, including cover letter format and presentation, choosing a type of cover letter, writing custom cover letters, and cover letter examples and templates.