How to Write an Effective Cover Letter
When sending a Resume or Application to an employer, you should send a cover letter to complement it unless instructed otherwise. Even if the cover letter is optional, this is a great chance to pitch to the company.
What is a Cover Letter?
An effective cover letter should be directed towards a specific position or company and describe examples from your experience that show off skills the employer needs. Try not to simply repeat your resume in paragraph form, but to complement your resume by offering a little more detail about key experiences.
You want to convince the reader that your interest in the job and company are genuine and specific. You also want to demonstrate ways that your experience has prepared you for the role by sharing a few brief stories that highlight your qualifications. This takes time and research; use the job description and the company’s web site or LinkedIn page to identify traits and skills the company values.
Lastly, cover letters are also a chance to demonstrate the communication skills necessary to most jobs. Careful composing and revision are essential. To ensure it will be effective, bring your cover letter to our drop-in hours or schedule an appointment with a counselor to have it reviewed.
Cover Letter structure and format:
Cover letters should be no longer than one page with a font size between 10-12 points. Be sure to include your contact information and address it directly to a named individual whenever possible. If you aren’t sure who to address it to, you can address as “Dear Hiring Manager.”
Cover letters typically take the following structure:
Introduction: 1st paragraph-
- Say who you are and what position you are applying for (“I am an MIT Chemistry major graduating in June. I am writing to express my interest in the Chemist position with [Company Name].”)
- Specify why you are interested in that specific position and organization
Body: 2-3 paragraphs-
- Cite a couple of examples from your experience that support your ability to be successful in the position or organization
Closing: Last paragraph-
- Thank the reader for their time.
- Consider restating succinctly
- why you are a good candidate State your desire for an interview and include your contact information (phone/email)
Sample Cover Letter #1
XXX Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139
Boston, MA 02116
March 20, 2021
Dear Campus Recruiter:
I am a senior at MIT majoring in biology with a concentration in management from Sloan Business School. I was extremely impressed with Deloitte’s approach to consulting after speaking with Yelena Shklovskaya. Deloitte is unique in having the ability to form diverse teams to tackle all the problems a client may have. As a member of the Strategy & Operations group, I may have the opportunity to meet and work with a variety of people in this consulting group, in other areas of consulting, and outside of consulting as well. In particular, I like the amount of attention and dedication that Deloitte puts into working with its clients, not only by devising effective strategies to address the clients’ problems, but also by often implementing the recommendations on-site. Therefore, I am writing to request an invitation to interview for a Business Analyst position with Deloitte.
In the past two years, I have been involved in strategy consulting, pharmaceuticals, and government affairs for a non-profit healthcare organization. This summer, I worked in strategy consulting for Putnam Associates. My 6-member team evaluated the marketing efforts for a major pharmaceutical company’s organ transplant drug. Through my management of recruitment and interviews with 98 physicians, I obtained primary research and analyzed it on national and regional levels to recommend and help implement improvements in the client’s marketing plan. I learned how to work in a deadline-oriented environment, held responsibility for large segments of a team project, and enhanced my quantitative skills through analysis of primary and secondary research data. In addition, I conducted independent research to form recommendations when launching a drug that follows a related product, and I presented these key considerations to all Putnam employees.
I have been a volunteer in public policy for 7 years with the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation. I lobbied Senators at both the Massachusetts and California State Capitols, as well as on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Lobbying has taught me negotiation skills, the need for contingency plans, and the ability to make quick yet innovative decisions. Two years ago, I was appointed Director of Massachusetts Youth Public Affairs and asked to be a member of the state’s Public Affairs Council. My responsibilities include developing, organizing, and implementing the Foundation’s annual public policy objectives in an ultimately results-driven environment.
Through my experience with Putnam Associates and the March of Dimes, along with my modeling work in the MIT Sloan Business School, I used my management skills to negotiate and consult with others, analytically design a successful plan, and execute my ideas. I am confident that I can bring my strong, diverse technical and business background to best fit the current needs and future ventures of Deloitte.
I welcome the opportunity to speak with you about my qualifications and ways that I can contribute to Deloitte. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sample Cover Letter #2
School Address: BIOLOGY STUDENT Address:
105 MIT Avenue [email protected] 47 A Street
Cambridge, MA 02139 (XXX) XXX-XXXX Suburb, MA 0XXXX
January 21, 2013
Merck Future Talent Program Coordinator
Merck Corporate Headquarters
1 Merck Drive
P.O. Box 100
Dear Merck Future Talent Program Coordinator,
I am a junior at MIT pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. I am writing to express interest in the Merck Future Talent Program for interns in biology. I am well-qualified to conduct research and I am interested in exploring the pharmaceutical industry to expose myself to possible future careers. I heard about Merck at a campus recruiting event and was extremely impressed with Merck’s approach to global healthcare. As a biology major at MIT, I have great background knowledge of biology and chemistry in addition to extensive research experience. I am eager to expand and broaden my knowledge of research, biology, and pharmaceutical development though participating in Merck’s internship program. Based on my research and educational experience, and possibly more importantly because of my interest and enthusiasm, I believe I am a strong candidate for an internship at Merck.
After over a year and a half of working at the Vander Heiden Laboratory at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, I’ve gained skills in research, teamwork, and problem solving all while learning how to take initiative. As a part of my lab, I collaborate closely with graduate students, technicians, and Professor Vander Heiden to discuss project directions and goals. By writing research proposals and presenting a project in a lab meeting I have learned to effectively communicate at a scientific level. Also, I am experienced in a variety of laboratory techniques. One particularly challenging project I worked on independently was expressing pyruvate-phosphate dikinase (PPDK), an uncommon and non-commercially available enzyme found in corn, from corn cDNA. To clone PPDK, I designed over 30 cloning and sequencing primers for a variety of published PPDK sequences and cyclophilin as a positive control. This project was challenging due to the fact that the corn cDNA did not contain most of the published PPDK sequences. By applying different cloning techniques, I was able to successfully clone and express PPDK.
In addition to my research, I have taken a leadership role within my sorority. Last year, the president of my sorority asked me to assume the role of Inner Social Chair due to an unexpected resignation. Wanting to help my chapter, I stepped up and was able to efficiently plan a last minute formal within a limited budget of $3,250. By contacting multiple venues, negotiating contracts, collaborating with the executive board, and publicizing the event to 300 people, I was able to organize a successful event, which might not have otherwise come to fruition.
I am passionate about research, have an extensive knowledge of biology, and have excellent communication, teamwork, and organizational skills. Most importantly, I am extremely excited about Merck and the pharmaceutical industry. Please contact me at (XXX) XXX-XXXX or [email protected] Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.
Sample Cover Letter #3
123 MIT Street
March 20, 2021 Cambridge, MA 02139
Department of Global Chemistry
Merck & Co. Inc
One Merck Drive
P.O. Box 100
NJ 08889-0100 USA
I am a sophomore at MIT majoring in Biological Engineering with a minor in Chemistry. After attending Merck’s information session at MIT, I have been impressed by Merck’s promises to provide fundamental care for patients. Merck not only continues to produce essential vaccines to prevent infectious diseases such as measles and hepatitis B, but also innovates to develop newer prescription and consumer products that benefit the daily life of people. Attracted by Merck’s dedication to improve the quality of life, I would like to intern at the Department of Global Chemistry and gain a greater perspective of organic synthesis in pharmaceutical industry and drug development process.
My interest in Chemistry-related industry originates from my internship with Chevron the summer after high school graduation. Mentored by Dr. Jennifer Barbarrow, a chemist at the Oronite bench test team, I evaluated the quality difference between two lubricant oil samples by analyzing their chemical compositions before and after engine test. Through this internship, I have learned laboratory techniques such as FTIR and flash column chromatography, and I have also experienced the scientists’ routines in chemical industry, for instance, organizing and signing lab notebooks, receiving periodic safety trainings on chemical hazards, attending weekly team meetings, and presenting research results to collaborators outside of the team. Fully immersed in an industrial setting, I enjoyed the analytical, goal-oriented approach in solving scientific problems and working in a dynamic, multifunctional environment.
My experience at MIT further fine tunes and strengthens my interest in Chemistry. I have worked at MIT Amon Lab since my freshman year, where I investigate the relationship between aging and meiosis, a specialized cell division that produces gametes. In this research experience, not only have I been captivated by the complexity and scientific significance of aging research, but I have also realized that a comprehensive understanding of Biology, Chemistry, and engineering is needed to solve the problems related to human health. Therefore, I decided to study biological engineering and chemistry together. In Organic Chemistry II, I have become passionate about organic synthesis after learning how to derive compound structure from NMR, MS, and IR spectrums and to synthesize esters, alcohols, amines, and carboxylic derivatives. I want to be a part of the pharmaceutical industry as it encompasses all my interests, and I am confident that my background in both chemical and biological research will allow me to solve the challenges in drug development analytically and multi-dimensionally.
I welcome the opportunity to speak with you about my qualifications and ways that I can contribute to Merck and your drug development team. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
Sample Cover Letter #4
Student Enviro Eng
Cambridge, MA 02139
June 20, 2021
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Dear Ms. Harris,
I am a 2013 degree candidate for a Master of Engineering in Environmental Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition, I received my Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University in 2009. Before pursuing my graduate studies, I worked as a consultant at Camp Dresser and McKee for three years applying my skills to a range of projects including sustainable technology assessments and management of multi-disciplinary, multi-consultant project teams. Based on my work and educational experience, and perhaps more importantly because of my interest and enthusiasm, I think I am well suited to pursue a career in sustainability consulting.
I have a keen interest in the field of global warming and greenhouse gas management. I am currently pursuing this interest through my thesis work: a carbon impact evaluation of proposed hydropower in Chilean Patagonia. During my time as a consultant, I was able to distinguish myself as a proficient and motivated employee. In particular I sought to engage in projects that focused on renewable energy, sustainable design, and energy efficiency. I was also involved in promoting sustainable practices within the company, and initiated an educational conference for public sector clients.
My experience includes: delivering a sustainable technology assessment to compliment a campus’ low-carbon design strategy; evaluating the conversion of waste oils to biofuels at a local wastewater treatment plant; and conducting a cost analysis and carbon inventory for the design of a deep heat geothermal energy facility. Therefore, I am highly confident that I can use my skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm to help businesses develop and implement sustainability initiatives.
I welcome the opportunity to speak with you further about potential career opportunities. I can be reached at (617) XXX-XXXX or [email protected]
Student Enviro Eng
Sample Cover Letter #5
7 Consultant Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139
November 15, 2021
Mr. Joe Biden
McKinsey & Company, Inc.
10 Innovation Drive
Orange County, CA 92617
Dear Mr. Biden,
I am a candidate for Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT, with a concentration on decision analysis in complex engineering systems. I read your email regarding Operations Practice and talked to Ms. ABC from the Istanbul Office. I am very interested in joining “the Firm” as an Operations Analyst. I believe that a career in management consulting at McKinsey will provide the learning environment and the business exposure necessary to grow as a powerful leader who can see the “big picture”.
Being at MIT has given me exceptional opportunities to broaden my vision through a wide variety of courses from both engineering and management disciplines. Throughout my research studies, I applied those principles to develop dynamic investment strategies for large-scale oil development projects. From the technical perspective, I have gained extensive knowledge in complex decision analysis, stochastic modeling, optimization and software development. More importantly, I developed strong interpersonal skills from working closely with many people with different backgrounds, both in academia and industry. One notable experience is my research presentation to the senior executives from BP, which funded my research project for two years. I learned a great deal about communicating highly technical analysis to business people, which I believe is extremely important in management consulting.
Beyond my academic endeavors, I built a successful career as a professional tennis player where my commitment to excellence, passion and hard work helped me win the title of “Turkish Tennis Champion” for four consecutive years and gave me the honor to represent my country on the international arena. I learned to become successful in a competitive environment, to stay committed and to think strategically. Also, I developed many personal skills from involving myself in extracurricular activities. I took initiative in organizing the yearbook activities in college where I gained significant leadership skills such as defining group objectives for a better team alignment and building trust among various entities. I am confident that all these skills will enable me to add value to my role as a successful consultant at McKinsey.
I am particularly interested in McKinsey & Company because it provides a great opportunity to have a world-shaping impact while solving the most challenging problems of the leading institutions around the globe. Operating as “one firm” is one of McKinsey’s most distinctive characteristics, which helps it to become a true learning organization. I am eager to be a part of this international network, learn from the experiences of people at McKinsey and contribute to your company through my strong personality.
I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you further about my qualifications and discuss how I can contribute to McKinsey. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Civil Enviro Eng Student
Sample Faculty Cover Letter
000 Memorial Drive, # 0000
Cambridge, MA 02139
March 25, 2021
Search Committee, IT 989
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of XXX
City, State Zip
Dear Professor Hamid,
I am responding to your advertisement for a faculty position in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at University of XXX. I graduated from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT in June with a doctorate, and am currently working as a Postdoctoral Associate at MIT in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. My thesis work is in the area of active structural acoustic control using smart structures technology, and my specific research topic is the development of a new wavenumber domain sensing method for active structural acoustic control. My thesis advisor is Professor X in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT.
For my Ph.D. dissertation, I have worked on the development of the structural-acoustic control algorithms and their implementation for the reduction of radiated noise from vibrating underwater vehicles. The Office of Naval Research, with an objective of developing “smart” underwater vehicle systems so that the enemy cannot detect their attack in advance, has funded this project. My responsibility in this project is to develop the new technology to reduce the radiated noise from vibrating underwater vehicles. In order to accomplish this, I have developed a new wavenumber domain sensing method and applied it to the real-time estimation of acoustic power and the design of feedback controller for active structural acoustic control of the general complex structures. Furthermore, I have designed and experimentally implemented local and global controller architectures with different configurations to find the best controller configuration for the new underwater vehicle system.
I would like to continue my research on active structural control and active structural acoustic control for complex systems, including aerospace systems (aircrafts, helicopters) and underwater vehicles (submarines, torpedoes). I will carry out research on structure/fluid/control interaction phenomena and advanced sensor/actuator development using smart structures technologies. Also, I will extend my research to the development of advanced control design techniques for noise and vibration reduction of complex systems.
My ultimate research goal is to develop “intelligent structural systems”, which will contain arrays of sensors and actuators, and embedded devices for controls and decision-making algorithms, so that those systems can coordinate large numbers of devices and adapt themselves to uncertain environmental changes in an intelligent manner. I believe my extensive research experience and specialization in structural dynamics and controls will allow me to continue my research in those areas.
I have enclosed my curriculum vitae with a list of publications, and a list of references. If you have any questions or would like to talk with me, I can be reached by phone at (617) XXX-XXXX or email at [email protected] Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
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