LEOLEO: Literacy Education Online

Presenting Yourself Persuasively

General Purposes of Cover Letters

In general, the purpose of cover letters is to interest prospective employers enough so they call to schedule an interview. To fulfill this purpose, you'll need to target each cover letter to a specific company and position, showing how your background and abilities fulfill particular company needs.

Generic letters written to prospective employers are not enough. Those hiring will see such general letters for what they are: they'll realize that you haven't invested much time or effort in researching their company and writing an individual letter. And they probably won't invest their time by interviewing you.

You'll find that time spent to research the company, to determine how you're going to peak your readers' interest, and to write a letter convincing a prospective employer that your background matches company needs is well worth the effort.

Particular Purposes and Information

Cover letters are sales letter. Essentially, you're targeting your credentials to a particular market -- one company -- and persuading that company to make the buy. To fulfill this overall purpose, you'll need to achieve several goals in your letter:

  1. Your letter should provide readers with some insight into you as an individual. Draft your letter in a way that shows how you as an individual will fit into the organization.

  2. Use key terms from the ad or job description that are clearly relevant to your background.

  3. Structure your letter so that each part achieves these particular goals:

    Three sample cover letters are available:

    General cover letter tips are also available.

    More general resume information -- General Resume Tips -- offers an overview of resume writing, including explanations of the major areas on a resume, writing tips, and sample resumes.

    For questions and suggestions, please e-mail us at leolink@stcloudstate.edu.

    © 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 The Write Place

    LEO: Literacy Education Online
    This handout was written by Judith Kilborn for the Write Place, St. Cloud State University and may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer; if you revise it, please add your name to the list of writers.

    Last update: 6 July 1998

    URL: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/resumes/coverlet/persuade.html