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How to write a cover letter

Nail this to leave a great first impression!

Sarah Xu

December 19, 2023


cover letter

As many students and young professionals go into job applications prepared with a stellar resume, many overlook or are even unaware of what and why a cover letter may be asked to be attached as well. A cover letter is your first opportunity to make a lasting impression on a potential employer. While your resume provides a comprehensive overview of your skills and experiences, the cover letter is your chance to tell your unique story and explain why you're the perfect fit for the job. 

In this article, we will outline how to write an effective cover letter to compliment your resume, and ensure that you are fully prepared to nail your next job application!

Why Ask For A Cover Letter?

Before you start writing, it's crucial to understand the purpose of a cover letter. A cover letter serves several essential functions:

1️⃣ It introduces you to the employer and sets the stage for your resume.

2️⃣ It explains in more detail how your skills and experiences align with the job requirements and company culture, and why you're interested in the position and company.

3️⃣ It provides an opportunity to highlight specific achievements and qualifications that make you a strong candidate. You can brag here!

Before you start writing your cover letter, it is crucial to research the company and the job you're applying for. This research will help you tailor your letter to the specific position and organization. Here's what you should look for:

1️⃣ Company Information: Understand the company's mission, values, culture, and recent developments. This knowledge will help you align your values and skills with the company's goals.

2️⃣ Job Description: Carefully read the job description and identify key qualifications and responsibilities. This will help you demonstrate your suitability for the role.

3️⃣ Contact Information: Find out who the cover letter should be addressed to, if possible. Addressing it to the hiring manager or a specific person can make your application more personal.

How To Structure Your Cover Letter

Header: Include your contact information at the top of the page. This should match the header of your resume.

Salutation: Address the hiring manager or recipient by name, if possible. If you can't find a name, use a general salutation like "Dear Hiring Manager."

Opening Paragraph: Start with a strong opening that states the position you're applying for, express your enthusiasm for the role and briefly introduce yourself.

Body Paragraph(s): Use 1-2 paragraphs to explain why you are a perfect fit for the job. Provide specific examples of your skills, experiences, and achievements that relate to the position. Address the key requirements outlined in the job description.

Closing Paragraph: Summarize your interest in the role and express your eagerness to discuss your qualifications further.

Complimentary Close: Use a professional closing, such as "Sincerely" or "Best Regards."

Signature: Sign your cover letter if it's a hard copy. For electronic submissions, you can simply type your name.

Additional Writing Tips for an Effective Cover Letter 

  • Keep your cover letter to one page and use clear, concise language.

  • Instead of simply stating your qualifications, provide concrete examples of your achievements and how they relate to the job.

  • Customize your cover letter for each job application. Highlight specific qualifications that match the job description.

  • Incorporate relevant keywords from the job description to make your cover letter friendly for Applicant Tracking Software.

  • Maintain a professional tone throughout your letter. Avoid using slang or overly informal language.

  • Be sure to proofread your cover letter for grammar and spelling errors. 

  • Use quantifiable data to highlight your accomplishments if you have any.

  • Be sure to review any cover letter or application submission guidelines you may need to adhere to.

Writing an effective cover letter is an essential skill to learn when starting the job application process. Mastering this skill of compelling cover letters can increase your chances of being remembered within a large pool of applicants, and be a tool in landing your dream job. Take this as an opportunity to shine and make a memorable first impression on potential employers! You’ve got this!