A cover letter accompanies your resume or CV and allows you to respond to job openings or initiate contacts.
It is very important that each letter be written individually to respond to each position or introduce yourself to each contact. For job listing response letters, this means that you must give some thought to how your background matches the qualifications of the position. For an academic position, your letter must indicate a sincere interest in academic life and the institution to which you are applying.
Bear in mind that letters you write not only convey your interest and qualifications, but also give the employer an opportunity to observe your attentiveness to detail, spelling, grammar, and the overall quality of your written communication. Flaws in letters are often interpreted as flaws in your qualifications.
While the purpose of your resume or CV is to excite an employer enough to call you for an interview, the purpose of your cover letter is to get an employer to read your resume or CV. The following guidelines and samples will help you compose your own letters. The samples should not be used as-is, but rather as guides for preparing your own letters.