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.]
Summer Job Cover Letter Examples
What to Include in a Cover Letter for a Summer Position
Are you looking for a summer job? In many ways, applying for a summer job is the same as applying for any position — candidates need to show that they have the required skills. Your cover letter is often the best place to do so.
Summer jobs are a bit different from regular jobs, though, since they often have a set end date, and because they take place over a busy, social season that is dominated by vacations and holidays.
This can lead to hiring managers having a few specific qualifications and character traits in mind as they review job applications. To help you land the interview, your cover letter will need to demonstrate the precise qualifications the hiring manager is seeking.
What to Include in a Winning Summer Job Cover Letter
First, make sure you're familiar with the basics of writing a cover letter. If you’ve never sent one before and have no idea where to start, take a look at this cover letter guide, which provides step-by-step instructions on how to write one, formatting advice, and plenty of samples and examples to browse through.
Next, you'll want to target your cover letter for a summer job. Managers tend to look for two main qualities in candidates when hiring for a short-term placement. First up: the ability to learn quickly. Since summer jobs only last for a few months, companies do not want to invest a lot of time (and money) in training.
Hiring managers are looking for candidates who are quick to pick up tasks, have previous experience in relevant fields, and know how to ask smart questions when they're unsure.
As much as possible in your cover letter, emphasize your prior, relevant experience. Be direct. If you're applying for a job as a waitress, mention any other food service work, for instance, or experience working in any hospitality field.
Another quality that interviewers seek in candidates is responsibility. When the weather's nice outside, it can be tempting to play hooky. Summer workers are often scheduled to work on holiday weekends, which means working while others are on vacation. Companies want to hire people they can count on to show up on time for scheduled shifts.
Think about ways you can show that you are a dedicated, responsible employee in your cover letter.
Summer Job Cover Letter Examples
The following summer job cover letter examples and cover letter templates can be used for summer job applications. Be sure to personalize your letters to reflect your experience and interests.
Cover Letter Templates
Use these templates to help keep your letter organized, whether you'd sending a hard copy or email.
- Cover Letter Format: Need a refresher on what to include in your cover letter — and what to leave out? This paragraph-by-paragraph guide will help you organize your thoughts.
- Cover Letter Template: This generic template works for any job or career stage, and keeps you from going too long (or too short).
- Email Cover Letter Template: Odds are, you’ll send your cover letter via email. This template ensures that your information grabs the hiring manager’s attention right from the start.
- Microsoft Word Cover Letter Templates: These free cover letter templates for Microsoft Word will save you a step in your writing process and produce a perfectly formatted end-product.
Summer Job Resume Examples
Also review summer job resume examples, so that you can apply with a winning pair of job application materials. These samples will help you highlight your relevant experience, even if you are just starting out. Consider all of your related experience, including schoolwork, volunteering, school activities, and prior part-time jobs, but focus on the most relevant skills and accomplishments.
As a bonus, looking at these resume examples will help remind you of what belongs in a resume and what belongs in a cover letter — often a challenge, even for job seekers who’ve been in the working world for a long time.