University of Minnesota
Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
Office of Career Services
COVER LETTERS THAT MATTER
Summary from Cover Letter Magic
Wendy S. Enelow and Louise Kursmark
JIST Works Publishers, 2001
Cover letters are CAREER MARKETING LETTERS. There are 3 reasons to use them:
- Application letters, asking for an interview: Ad-Response Letters, Cold-Call Letters,
- Contact/networking letters, asking for information
- Follow-up letters to reinforce previous correspondence
APPLICATION LETTERS should include the following elements:
Introducing yourself and clearly defining who you are.
Highlighting your most notable qualifications, experiences, credentials, skills, and
Identifying the value you can bring to the organization.
Capturing your reader's interest in you, your resume, and your availability.
Motivating the reader to call and offer you the opportunity for an interview.
"A cover letter that presents you as a solution to an organization's challenges is much more
effective than one that simply presents your qualifications." This means that you need to
research the organizations you are applying to and understand why they are hiring and what
skills they really need. Sometimes you can get a lot of this information from the job posting,
sometimes through the website or publications, sometimes only through conversations with
people who know the organization well.
The Top Ten Strategies for Writing Winning Cover Letters ( pages xxi - xxii)
Make it easy for someone to understand "who" you are - communicate this at the
beginning of the letter.
Use a unique and professional format for your letters - make them visually
attractive and distinctive.
Highlight your most relevant qualifications for that organization and that job.
Shine a spotlight on your most relevant achievements (talk about the tangible
results of your work).
Include information that shows you know something about the organization and