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Cover Letter 101

Let’s face it; all of the rules of the job search process have undergone tremendous change over the past few years and the cover letter is no exception.  

What is a Cover Letter?

Not so long ago, an introductory or “cover letter” was an actual letter, printed on nice, heavy stationery, and sent via snail mail. Today, the entire process is electronic. Most of the time, you’ll apply for a job online, via a job posting to either the company’s career site or a job listing website.  You may be sending an email to the company recruiter or hiring manager, or perhaps making a connection on LinkedIn. However, when that first introduction happens, it needs to make a powerful impression.

Think of the cover letter as your statement of purpose, more like a written version of an elevator pitch. Remember, the person receiving your resume is most likely overwhelmed with applicants and will spend less than 20 seconds looking at your cover letter. If you’re long winded, you’re simply going to get tossed aside.

Check out the following tips.  In no time, you’ll be writing award winning cover letters and fielding offers.

Cover Letter Tips

So here are our tips for helping you write a winning cover letter. 


Spend some time with the job description to see if it’s a fit with your skills, experience and interests.


Develop a list of your relevant skills, education and experience with specific examples that speak directly to key points from the job posting


Review the posting for the preferred application process (online, email or snail mail) and proceed.

Best Practices to Applying Online & On Paper

By Email

To a company representative, recruiter or hiring manager
  1. Send only one attachment with your resume, and if applicable a web link to your LinkedIn profile or website.
  2. Keep it brief. Make it quick and easy for the person receiving your email to understand why you’re emailing them and what you hope to accomplish (i.e. schedule an interview, etc.)
  3. Express gratitude for their time and consideration and close with a specific follow up action.

On a Company or Organization's Website

  1. Most companies use sophisticated software to manage job applications and postings. The system “scores” your information and provides the recruiter with a ranked list of candidates. Of course, you want to come out near the top of that list
  2. These systems usually allow you to enter a cover letter via a text box or by uploading the letter as an attachment.
  3. Keep it brief. Make it quick and easy for the person receiving your letter or information to understand why you’re a good fit for the position and the organization.
  4. Express gratitude for their time and consideration.

By Snail Mail

  1. Keep it concise. Make it easy for the person receiving your letter to understand why you’re a good fit for the position and the organization.
  2. Use specific examples relevant to both the posting and the organization’s goals.
  3. Express gratitude for their time and consideration.


Applying or making a connection through LinkedIn
  1. Keep it short and sweet. Make it quick and easy for the person you’re contacting to know why you’re reaching out and what you’d like to accomplish.
  2. If you’re introducing yourself via another LinkedIn connection, briefly mention how you know your mutual connection.
  3. Thank them for their time and consideration.

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Events & Workshops

  • Sep 30
    Session on how to present yourself quickly and succinctly when you have a captive audience for a short time
    6:30 p.m.

    Princeton Room, Daly's Dining Hall

  • Oct 1
    Join our Outcomes successful alumnus Ryan Guth ’06, Director of Choral Music, Marlboro Middle School and Founder, Voiceworks, for a session that will offer you 50 topics for success as a new graduate.
    6:30 p.m.

    Talbott 2

  • Oct 2
    Rider undergraduate, graduate students and alumni will have a chance to market themselves to prospective employers.
    11:00 a.m.

    Student Recreation Center

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