Cover Letters

Resumes, References, and Cover Letters Cover Letter How-to Guide!

Employers report that an impressive cover letter is often more important than your resume when making a decision whether to interview a candidate, so it can be a mistake to focus too much attention on the resume and ignore the potential value of a well-written letter. Like the resume, the cover letter is not intended to get you the job—it is intended to get you an interview where you can convince the employer face-to-face that you are the right one for the job. Whenever you cannot present your resume personally, a cover letter should accompany it. A cover letter should always accompany a resume that is sent by U.S. Postal Service or e-mail.  A cover letter is not necessary when you deliver your resume to a potential employer at a career fair.


A cover letter should work like advertising copy. It should:

  • Cover Letter Tips view time 4:26catch the reader’s attention (opening paragraph)
  • communicate skills and experience (middle paragraph)
  • support your statements with specifics (middle paragraph)
  • compel the reader to act (final paragraph)

Basic tips:

  • Always customize your cover letter! Sending out a general cover letter and resume to hundreds of employers is rarely successful. It can create a perception on the employer’s part that you are not a serious and thoughtful person, that you are desperate for a job, or that you don’t really care enough about their organization to learn about them or their needs.
  • The most important aspect of a cover letter is employer focus. Present the employer with indications of your personality and style along with your skills and abilities. Highlight your qualifications for the specific position you seek, clearly stating your interests and qualifications relative to the employer’s needs.
  • Your resume/cover letter package will be enhanced if both documents are printed on the same high-quality bond paper and include the same header.
  • Your letter should be just a few paragraphs (3-4) and only one page in length. While there is no “perfect formula” regarding length and what to include, keep it relevant and relatively brief.

Follow the UCC

Facebook Pinterest Twitter instagram: Humans of KU KU University Career Center LinkedIn Group Instagram: University Career Center

Follow the KU Career Blog

Explore Career & Major Options

HawkQuest the career and major exploration quiz for jayhawks

Search jobs & internships

(formerly KU Career Connections)

If you have trouble logging in, please contact Natalia Plotnikov at or 785-864-2019.

Events, Workshops, & Info Sessions
  1. Monday, August 20, 2018
    9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
    Kansas Union: 4th floor lobby
  2. Tuesday, August 28, 2018
    5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
    Burge Union, Forum B
  3. Wednesday, August 29, 2018
    10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
    Kansas Union: 4th floor lobby


Subscribe to Events, Workshops, & Info Sessions
Career & Employment News Feed
University Career Center
6th in the nation for its social media presence in 2013 —
Winner of the 2013 Innovation Excellence Award in Research —National Association of Colleges and Employers
2009 National Chevron Award winner for excellence in career services —National Association of Colleges and Employers
2010 National Chevron Award finalist for excellence in career services —National Association of Colleges and Employers
Professional Clothing Closet won Service Program of the Year —2011-12 Jayhawk Choice Awards
More than 500 students enroll in career classes annually
Each year more than 7,500 jobs and 1,400 internships are posted in KU Career Connections
University Career Center hosts eight career fairs each year
More than 360 organizations attended University Career Center career fairs the past academic year
More than 10,000 students attended University Career Center workshops in 2012-13