Cover Letters & References

A cover letter is: 

  • An introduction and accompaniment to your résumé. It highlights specific experiences and skills to show your value to an organization; 
  • Written specifically for each position, not a generic, one-size-fits all letter;
  • An example of your writing and communication abilities. 

Types of Cover Letters

To Advertised Listings

This type of letter is written in response to a specific opening/position. It should, whenever possible, be addressed to a specific person. Read the job posting/description closely and tailor your résumé to highlight your experiences to their desired qualifications and qualities. Use specific examples to show you are a good fit.

Open Inquiry

Think about your objective and communicate that to the recipient.  Although not responding to a specific posting, the letter should be tailored to the company to which you are sending it, and be specific in citing common qualities and goals. Address the letter to a specific person, even if it is the Director of Human Resources.

When writing your letter, do:

  • Write an original letter for each employer and position;
  • Show that you know your career goals and how they relate to the position;
  • Communicate how you will fit in the company and will contribute to its mission;
  • Demonstrate originality and enthusiasm;
  • Proofread your letter;
  • Use paper, font, and formatting that matches your résumé.

Do not:

  • Use a generic letter;
  • Make the letter more than one page;
  • Exaggerate your skills or experience;
  • Include information that is unrelated to the posting;
  • Reiterate the company's mission statement;
  • Have any spelling errors.

Sample Cover Letters


List of References

Employers like to speak with references who can attest to you as an employee, so current or previous supervisors or employers are best. Also, business acquaintances, professors, advisors, coaches, or customers can all provide references. If you volunteer, consider using leaders or other members of the organization as a reference. 
Ask your references if they would be willing to be listed as a reference for you before you include them on your résumé. Provide them a current résumé so they have a broader view of your qualifications. If during an interview an interviewer indicates he/she will be contacting your references, let your references know to expect a call. Also provide information about the position and organization. Choose 3-5 references. Print them on quality paper that matches your résumé.

Reference information to include

  • Name
  • Title
  • Organization
  • Address (street, city, state, zip)
  • Work phone
  • Cell phone (if provided by reference)
  • Email


Career Services
Bair Family Student Center 116