Cover Letter, Letter of Transmittal

A cover letter is the front page of your employment packet. Your cover letter is a miniature argument in which you explain how your specific skills meet the employer’s requirements for the position.


What are the conventions of a cover letter?

The cover letter has a particular, expected format. It will always begin with the following elements:

Your name
Your address
City, State Zip Code
Phone number
Professional email addressDateEmployer/Inside Contact’s name
Title
Company
Address
City, State Zip CodeDear Ms. Employer:I am writing in relation to your posting on the USF employment database for a technical…

The formatting of your information should match the heading that is on your resume, and you should always search carefully for the specific contact information related to the job posting. Most job ads will include this information clearly, but sometimes you may need to look to the contact email address for this title, and do some crafty Googling to find the name of the specific person(s) in charge of hiring. This article has some helpful tips for finding this information.

After you’ve got this information down, you need to begin with a salutation. Try to avoid “to whom it may concern,” unless you cannot find the contact’s information. Particularly when the inside contact’s information is readily available, using generic addresses can make your cover letter seem unresearched or, worse, not specific to the job to which you’re applying.

The next step is to compose the cover letter. In general, a cover letter will consist of three sections:

  1. An introduction, explaining which position you’re applying for and  information about where you learned about the position
  2. An explanation of your skills and how they specifically qualify you as the best person for the position
  3. A closing with your contact information and an expression of gratitude for the review of your application materials.

Throughout the cover letter, you should avoid using subjective statements, such as “I have great communication skills” or “I am an excellent team player” and instead focus on demonstrating your facility in these skills by using specific examples, such as “I have been in charge of distributing workplace communications for two years” or “I participated in six group projects during my time working in the campus bookstore.”

What is an inside address?

An inside address is the name and information that you place in your cover or business letter. The bolded portion below is the inside address.

Your name
Your address
City, State Zip Code
Phone number
Professional email addressDateEmployer/Inside Contact’s name
Title
Company
Address
City, State Zip Code
Dear Ms. Employer:I am writing in relation to your posting on the USF employment database for a technical…

Why should I use an inside address?

The proliferation of “To whom it may concerns” on the internet may have you supposing that  inside addresses are no big deal. However, an inside address is more important than most people might think. By providing an inside address, you show that you cared enough about the job to read the job posting thoroughly, conduct research on the company if necessary, and tailor your application materials accordingly. In this way, you craft your ethos as a communicator.

How can I find an inside address?

Oftentimes, an inside address will be readily available in the job posting or other materials. In other cases, this information might be more difficult. This article has excellent tips for finding an inside address when it is not readily available.