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Career Services at SJR State

The purpose of this guide is to help you identify companies for a job search, find job openings in specific fields, perform background research on companies for interviews and create company lists for targeted job searches.

What is a Cover Letter?


As a strategic job seeker, you will not rely on a résumé to speak for itself. Instead, you are likely to write a brief cover letter or email to accompany it. A cover letter is designed to go on top of—that is, to “cover”—a résumé and prepare a reader for the main document.

You may be wondering whether cover letters are really necessary, considering how many job applications are linked to an online application form. The online job search service The Ladders asked that question also and published the results of contributor research on cover letters, which found that more than 50% of online applications forms include a field to write or attach a cover letter (Ladders Contributor, 2019).

Cover letters not only help employers; good cover letters will help you in these ways:

  • Point an employer to the most relevant information in your résumé
  • Make a case for why you are a good fit for the job
  • Convey your personality and provide assurance of your writing skills

As you can see, the cover letter is the link between a job advertisement and your résumé.

To write a good cover letter, follow this three-step process:

Analyze the job advertisement to identify key words, reflecting what the employer considers important.

Identify content for your cover letter that shows how you meet all the criteria and exemplify the characteristics the company has identified.

Draft the letter, painting a picture of yourself as well as your interest in and qualifications for the job.