How to Write a Cover Letter
Purpose of Your Cover Letter
Your cover letter is an important component of the application process. It serves as a way for you to summarize your qualifications, state your interest in a position, and stand out from other applicants.
Cover letters typically accompany each resume you submit, unless otherwise specified. It is customized to each opportunity you are pursuing.
Tips for Writing Your Cover Letter
How to ensure your content is concise, relevant, and appealing to potential employers.
- While every cover letter is different, effective cover letters demonstrate you are a good fit for the position.
- Convey your enthusiasm for the position and knowledge of the company.
- Provide support and examples that showcase the skills and competencies that are being sought.
- Focus on your accomplishments and measurable results.
Follow Standard Business Writing Protocol
- Address your cover letter to a specific person whenever possible. It may take some resourcefulness on your part to identify the appropriate person, but the letter will be better received.
- Write clearly and concisely.
- Use proper grammar and check for misspelled words.
- Limit your letter to one page.
- Be sure to include the date, an appropriate salutation, and close with your signature.
Do Not Mass Produce
- Mass produced cover letters are a common mistake, and easy to detect. Be sure to relate your specific skills and experiences to each individual position.
- Incorporate information that reflects your knowledge of the company, the industry, or the position.
- Consider that employers are seeking to fill specific roles and are looking for applicants that have the skills and qualities to succeed in that role.
Structuring Your Cover Letter
Paragraph 1: Capture Attention
- In your first paragraph, capture the reader's attention.
- Indicate the position you are applying for and how you learned of the vacancy, i.e. Did someone tell you about it? Did you see an ad or website?
- Outline the specific reasons why you are ideal for the position.
- Sell yourself in paragraph 1. Do not wait until the second paragraph to articulate why you are well qualified for the position.
Paragraph 2 & 3: Create Desire
- Describe yourself as a serious candidate and one worth inviting for an interview. State the hard details including your specific skills, history of responsibility, success, etc.
- Think about ways to reinforce an image of yourself that includes as many of the desired qualities as possible.
- Show, don’t tell. Remember, your goal is to set yourself apart from other applicants. Do not just tell the employer you have a skill, provide evidence. For example, do not just state you are “detail oriented”. Give the reader an example of something in your work history that proves that you are detail oriented.
- Refer to your resume, but do not simply list the contents of it.
- Emphasize how your variety of experiences are connected to the position and will benefit the company.
Paragraph 4: Call for Action
- Use a few lines to express your strong interest in the position and your desire to discuss your application further in an interview.
- Give a brief summary of the key points in the letter, but avoid repetition.