Not only does the cover letter introduce you to your future employers but it also provides them with a writing sample. Use a cover letter to clearly communicate why you are a perfect fit for the job you are applying to and what value you’ll bring.

The Purpose of a Cover Letter

A cover letter isn't just to get your resume read. It's your chance to show why you're the perfect fit for the job beyond what's on your resume. It's where you demonstrate your work habits, skills, enthusiasm, and communication style with real examples.

Why It Matters

While some hiring managers may read your cover letter after your resume, it’s crucial no matter when they see it. A strong cover letter can prove you can do the job and move you to the next stage of the application process.

Tips for a Standout Cover Letter

  • Error-Free: Typos or grammatical mistakes can disqualify you. Proofread at least twice and get a friend to review it.
  • Brevity: Keep it under one page.
  • Easy to Read: Use bullet points.
  • Tailored: Customize it for the job opening.
  • Personalized Salutation: Address it to the hiring manager if possible. If not, you can replace the salutation with a subject heading or use "Dear Hiring Manager for X position"

Recommended Format

  1. First Paragraph: Mention how you found the job, any mutual connections, and your interest in the position and company.
  2. Middle Paragraph: Highlight your qualifications, accomplishments, and how you add value. If your experience isn't an obvious fit, explain why you're still an excellent candidate.
  3. Final Paragraph: Summarize your qualifications and include a call to action, such as, “Please contact me to discuss how I can contribute to your team.”

Final Touch

Always tailor your cover letter to the job description. Mention the organization and job title by name in the first paragraph. Use bullet points in the middle paragraph to relate your experience to the job description.

Example Cover Letter

A cover letter for this research assistant position where you don't know the hiring manager could look something like the this:


April 30, 2024

RE: Research Assistant, International Trade and Finance                                                                                              

I discovered this position through the University of Maryland’s Department of Economics website. I am excited to apply for the Congressional Research Service’s Research Assistant position. My coursework in international trade, finance, and statistical methods can ensure that the congressional requests CRS provides are well-informed, accurate, and timely.

For all my qualitative and quantitative research papers, I have used data visualization software to ensure that the information is presented in an easily digestible format. In addition, I enjoy conducting policy analysis and keeping up-to-date on international politics. My relevant experience includes:

  • The completion of four major policy analysis papers and 15 policy summary assignments which all received top marks
  • Leading and participating in three different group projects that included quality control and tracking legislation
  • Developing and maintaining databases for my position as an office assistant
  • Preparing materials for a recruitment event for the Diversity in Economics student group that increased membership by 20% with five new members

I look forward to discussing how I can support CRS and Congress by supplying relevant and timely information that reflects the nation’s top policy leaders. I appreciate the opportunity to contribute my research, policy, and data visualization skills to inform public policy and I look forward to hearing from you.



E. Con Student


The Feller Center has created a cover letter checklist for you to use which includes a great example for an ECON student.

If you would like a cover letter template in the same style as our ECON Resume Template, you can download that here.