How to Write a Cover Letter

Draft a great cover letter with these helpful guidelines.

Samantha Starkey

April 09, 2015

How to Write a Cover Letter How to Write a Cover Letter

A cover letter, as its name suggests, is a letter that accompanies your resume or CV, acting as the employer’s initial reference to you and your skillset.

Unlike the resume, which can but doesn’t necessarily have to be tailored to the individual job, the cover letter must be unique to the position and company you’re applying for.

The cover letter usually contains the following information:

1. A greeting and an expressed interest in working for the company, as well as the name (if applicable) of a personal company contact you may have. You can also include a bit about yourself—for example, you’re a recent college graduate who studied X at school Y.

2. The reason for your application, whether you’re responding to a job posting or inquiring as to whether the company is hiring. It’s important to state where exactly you came across the opportunity and the specific name of the position to which you’re applying.

3. A highlight of your most applicable skills and accomplishments. Try to demonstrate skills that will fill a need for the company to which you’re applying. Aim to show that you want the job as much as the job wants you. This section will typically take up paragraphs two and three of your cover letter.

4. A polite request to meet in person at the employer’s earliest convenience, and a mention of the attached materials (resume, CV, writing sample, etc.). Also, remember to thank the employer for his/her consideration.

Some additional tips:

• Keep your cover letter under a page in length.
Like resumes, employers will typically be reading cover letters in bulk.

• Spend some time researching the company to which you’re applying.
Employers don’t want to feel that they’re receiving some boilerplate cover letter with relevant information subbed in. Demonstrate that you know what the company does and what its values are.

• Be professional.
Write succinctly but strongly, show enthusiasm and personality, and avoid jargon and clichés. Have somebody with cover letter experience read it over, and make sure to proofread.

• Format your cover letter in business letter format.
This includes your address (though some debate whether or not to include an address), the date, and the address of the employer at the top.

Also, make sure to include an appropriate greeting (“Dear Ms. Smith” or a specific name is best) and a closing (“Sincerely” or “Best”).

• Utilize your college’s career center.
They will be able to read over your cover letter and offer constructive feedback and edits tailored specifically to your skills and experiences.

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