A cover letter is an important tool to use when applying for a job because it:
- Introduces you to the prospective employer
- Highlights your enthusiasm for the position
- Describes your specific skills and qualifications for the job or internship, and clearly explains why you are a good fit
- Confirms your availability to start a new position
You should always include a cover letter when applying for a job unless you are specifically told not to by the employer. We recommend that you write a cover letter (aka letter of intent) after you have drafted and tailored your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) for a particular job description. For academic faculty and teaching positions, see cover letter instructions in Masters, Ph.D.'s and Postdocs section. When applying online and limited to uploading one document, you can create a single PDF document that includes both your resume and cover letter.
What to Include in a Cover Letter
Use the cover letter template and planner to get started. When drafting your cover letter, keep the following DO’s and DON’Ts in mind:
- Limit the cover letter to one page if possible, unless applying to academic faculty, teaching or research positions.
- Use the same font and formatting in the cover letter as you use in your resume.
- You might also want to use the same header in both a cover letter and resume. See header formatting examples.
- If providing a printed copy, use the same type of paper for both your cover letter and resume. Resume paper can be purchased at the UC Davis Bookstore or at an office supply store.
- Many tech companies prefer the cover letter not be attached, but uploaded as text in an email with the resume attached.
- Use formal, professional language in a cover letter. This is true when sending your cover letter as text in an email (above point).
- Personalize each cover letter to the specific position you are applying to.
- Address your cover letter to a specific person or the hiring manager whenever possible. If you don’t know their name, use one of the following examples:
- "Dear Hiring Manager,"
- "Dear [insert department here] Hiring Team,"
- "Dear Recruiter, "
- “Dear Search Committee Chair and Committee Members:” (used for academic teaching positions)
- "To Whom It May Concern: " Note, this last one uses a “:” not a “,”
- Check for typos, proper grammar and accuracy.
- Use spellcheck, but do not rely on it to catch all errors.
- Have multiple people review your application materials.
- Make an appointment with an ICC adviser to review your application materials before you apply.
- Unless told explicitly not to, you should always include a cover letter in your application.
- Don’t use text abbreviations or emoticons if you are using email.
- Don’t be too wordy or write just to fill the entire page.
- Don’t submit a generic “one size fits all” cover letter; tailor your cover letter to fit each position. Thus, none of your cover letters will be exactly the same, though a lot of content will be similar in each.
- Don’t repeat or summarize your resume in your cover letter. Instead, focus the cover letter on your enthusiasm for the job, excitement about working with that organization, to highlight unique skills that make you qualified for the position and a good fit for the employer.
- Don’t overuse adjectives or superlatives, especially subjective ones (e.g. “You are the best company in the world” or “I am the most hardworking student intern you will ever meet.”).
- Quantify when possible. "I've helped organize three club events, including two successful initiatives attended by 25 people" is a better descriptor then "I've helped organize several club events, including a couple successful initiatives attended by many people."
- Don’t exaggerate your skills or experience.
- Don’t use UC Davis letterhead, logo, or UC seal in your cover letter. [NOTE: For graduate students and postdocs, some departments allow use of department letterhead for tenure-track faculty applications. Check with your department before using.]
Thesis Statement for Employment
A thesis statement, when used for job searching, is a brief description of yourself, your characteristics, and your skills used to demonstrate your interest in a job and to show how you would benefit an organization. Thesis statements should be short, no more than a sentence or two. They may be used in cover letters, referral letters, or other job search correspondence to present your qualifications and aptitude for a job.
How to Brainstorm What Belongs in Your Employment Thesis Statement
Like an elevator pitch, coming up with a thesis statement requires some introspection. It will likely take some time to craft the best possible encapsulation of what you want in a job, as well as what you can offer to a company. Here are some tips for developing a strong thesis statement:
- Keep it short: Again, as with an elevator pitch, a thesis statement should be brief. Aim for a sentence or a couple sentences. If it's a paragraph, your thesis statement is too long.
- And direct: It should be easy to read your thesis statement, and understand your point. Use simple, clear language. Avoid overly complicated syntax and sentence structure.
- Consider your skills: What makes you special as a candidate? What can you do well — and what can you do well that others in your field do not necessarily offer? This is important information to convey. When you are using your thesis statement, you'll want to target this information to the job you are applying for. That is, you may have an IT certification and also be a strong presenter, but if you're applying for a job as a computer technician, the IT certification is the most important aspect to mention.
- Frame your skills as benefits to the company: One goal of a thesis statement is to make it readily apparent to a hiring manager how hiring you will be beneficial to the company.
Developing a thesis statement is a good way to build confidence in your job search. You can use your thesis statement on your resume, in the objectives or summary section.
You can also use a thesis statement in cover letters. In a cover letter, the thesis statement is part of why you're writing. So, place your thesis statement in the section about why you are writing. For instance, I'm writing to apply for the administrative assistant position at ABC company. My strong communication and organizational skills, as well as my ability to create order out of chaos, make me an excellent match for this position.
Thesis Statement Examples
My fascination with numbers combined with my strong accounting skills and mathematics minor would help me to make a solid contribution in this role.
My ability to successfully implement current web design technology and develop and maintain sites for start-up IT companies would enable me to contribute to XYZ company.
My strong fluency in Spanish and my strong marketing and communication skills would be an asset to your company.
I have created sales strategies that have achieved 40% revenue growth per year. I am able to motivate sales forces and design incentive programs to achieve short and long-term sales goals.