Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Cover Letter Tips

How do you write cover letters?

Cover letters give applicants the opportunity to explain why you want to work for that company in that role. Combined with a resume which summarizes how you are qualified, the cover letter can convey your cultural contribution and potential on their team. Integrate what you learned from your search strategy research to be specific and memorable, just like you would when answering these questions during an interview.

Should you write cover letters?


  • Lots of employers and roles still require them or at least make them optional
  • Opportunity to supplement, not repeat, resume with concise stories about your relevant experience
  • Show writing and communication skills
  • Extra effort signals they are a high priority


  • Many employers, especially those recruiting software engineering, are deciding not to accept cover letters, or at least make them "optional" - we are hearing that they often go unread when employers receive lots of applications
  • Time consuming to write - the old trick of writing one and then using Find and Replace to change the employer name is not an effective strategy
  • Time spent writing cover letters could instead be spent on researching other employers, networking, applying elsewhere, or preparing for interviews
  • Networking and perhaps even receiving a referral is an alternative to writing a cover letter which essential says, "Hi, I'm a stranger. Please read this letter and then my resume."

Okay, you decided you want to write one. Now what?

Best Practices


  • Keep it to the point - most don't want to read more than a page and the shorter the better
  • Research the employer extensively to decide what to include: consider their mission, values, and relevant news
  • Mention connections you have with them - here's where effective networking can make a difference "I spoke with a software engineer who was a UMass alumnus at our recent career fair and she encouraged me to apply".
  • Proofread for spelling and grammar; recommend reading aloud or having others proofread it for you
  • Match the style of the cover letter to the employer (i.e., if they are very formal on their website, be more traditional with "dear" and a header)
  • Find Hiring Agent's Name to help you personalize your letter; you can usually find names on the company website or on LinkedIn, but if you cannot find the hiring manager's name or their name is gender neutral, "Dear Hiring Manager," is appropriate
  • Use a consistent and traditional font consistent with your resume (we recommend Arial or Calibri 11pt.)


  • Repeat what's on your resume - a cover letter is another version of your resume written in paragraphs; it's okay to pick one of your experiences/projects
  • Use redundant language Do not start every sentence with "I"
  • Be informal Do not use contractions (e.g. don't, won't, I've)
  • Forget to sign your letter at the bottom (handwritten is not necessary, but could be a nice personal touch)



Dear Mr. Osef:

I am applying for the backend software engineering internship at [EMPLOYER]. I spoke with an alumna named [NAME] at the UMass Tech Fair in September and we had a great conversation about the entrepreneurial culture at [EMPLOYER], especially in your Marlborough office. I have since done more research online and have decided that your internship program would be a great step toward my career goal of becoming a back-end software engineer. 

One part of the job description which intrigues me is the opportunity to work with different teams.  In my previous internship with [EMPLOYER], I had the opportunity to work with back-end software engineering and cybersecurity teams, where I completed  [X PROJECT]. I recognize that these are important components of the work done at [EMPLOYER] and I am confident that I can bring the skills I gained from my previous experiences to be successful in this role.

I can be reached at any time at [PHONE] or [EMAIL] to further discuss my qualifications and interest in this position. Thank you for your time and consideration.




You might also want to add a header with the following information, if the employer has a more formal style:

  • Hiring Manager's Name
  • Company Name
  • Company Address, Town, Zip
  • Date
  • Your Name
  • Your Address, Town, Zip