Cover Letters and Emails

Job searching is a complex and competitive process for any applicant. As your first introduction to a potential employer, you want any emails, cover letters, or resumes you send to present a strong impression of who you are and what you would bring to the role. Contemporary cover letters are customized to each opportunity, sharing compelling and memorable information – skills, achievements, experiences, and credentials relevant to the role you’re applying for – to position you as a top candidate.

How to Write a Cover Letter

A cover letter is a one-page document written in a letter format that introduces you to an employer. It gives more context for you are and why you are a great fit for a role than what you are able to fit on a resume. Its purpose is to pique the reader’s interest, expand on what is on your resume, and to be able to demonstrate your specific interest in the organization and what you will be able to bring to the employer. What interests a hiring manager the most is what you can do for them and their organization. The best cover letters are really specific and could only have been written for the organization and role you are applying to.

How to Start

  1. Address the letter to a specific person and use their name in the salutation. If you do not know the name of the person who you are directing the letter to, you can use “Hiring Manager” or “Hiring Team.”
  2. Responding to a job posting? Mention the date, job number, and where you saw it in your opening to make it easy for the reader to identify why you are writing.
  3. Identify your common interest with the reader. Refer to your connection right away: a mutual acquaintance, the employer’s job posting, a recent media piece about the company, etc.
  4. Describe your interest as it relates to the opportunity and show that you know something about the company and industry in the first paragraph.

Writing the Body

  1. Write in your own words in plain language so that the letter sounds natural rather than out of a book or from a template. Employers are impressed by clear communication, enthusiasm, career focus, and experience.
  2. Use terms and phrases that are meaningful to the employer. Every industry has its own jargon; show that you are an “insider.”
  3. Organize your qualifications in 3 to 5 achievement statements that align directly with the job requirements using key words from the job description where possible.
  4. Provide specific examples of what you have achieved and the value of you have delivered to previous employers using those skills using numbers, dollars, and percentages to quantify your achievements.
  5. If you are short on direct experience in the field, refer to accomplishments from other areas to demonstrate your positive qualities and work-related fit as it relates to the opportunity, i.e., volunteer, internship, or work in an unrelated field.
  6. Readers of your cover letter—human or electronic—appreciate brevity. Keep it clear and no more than a page.
  7. Add strength to your letter by closing with a commitment to follow up with a call, an email, or some other communication. Job search is not a passive activity, but rather a proactive effort to land a new opportunity.

Cover Letter Templates

E-Mails to Recruiters or Hiring Managers

Instead of having you submit an application on an Applicant Tracking System, an employer might ask you to apply to a role by sending them an email with your resume and/or cover letter attached. You also might Because of this, you will need to write a message in the email body expressing who you are and why you are reaching out. The email messages tend to be shorter, easier to skim, and faster to read. The email is not a substitute for a well-written cover letter (attached as a PDF to the email). Think of it as introduction or invitation to open and read the formal cover letter and resume “package” you have attached to the email.

Your Email Signature

Your email signature block is a detail that can help to grow your professional network and communicate relevant academic achievements or affiliations. Another opportunity to catch the attention of a potential employer, it should make a strong first impression and include details relevant to your brand. The recommended format for Tulane:

Kerry J. Turchin
Tulane MBA Class of 20xx
President, Undergraduate Business Council
Tulane University | A.B. Freeman School of Business
Alternatively you can add your pronouns, see below and delete as appropriate
Kerry J. Turchin (She/her/hers) / (They/them/theirs) / (He/him/his)
Tulane MBA Class of 20xx
President, Undergraduate Business Council
Tulane University | A.B. Freeman School of Business