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Learn how to write a cover letter that leaves a great impression — and makes a potential employer want to know more about you.

What To Put In Your Cover Letter

Typically, a cover letter is one page long, and is sent with your resume or CV.

A good cover letter should do four things:

Make a good impression. The Greeting

  • Use the search committee chair or hiring manager's first and last name, including a "Mr." or "Ms." (e.g., Dear Mr. Jack Smith).
  • If you don't have the hiring manager's name, consider using "(Job Title) Search Committee"—something that shows that you've written this letter with a particular audience in mind.

Get their attention Intro Paragraph

  • Explain why you are writing this letter.
  • Indicate the position you are applying for and how you learned of the position.
  • If you are “prospecting” to determine if the organization has unpublished opportunities, indicate how you learned about the organization. The goes for acting on a referral from one of your professional friends as well.
  • Integrate the company research you'd done by explaining why you want to work there.
  • Outline the specific reasons why you are ideal for the position.  
  • Show off your experience!

Make them want to know more. Body Paragraph(s)

  • Describe yourself and why you're worth inviting for an interview—demonstrating to the employer how your interests, education and experience fit the requirements described in the position postings. 
  • Show, don’t tell. Use specific examples that illustrate your related skills and experience. Your goal is to set yourself apart from other applicants.
  • If you are prospecting, describe how do you see yourself fitting with this organization.
  • Refer to your resume, but don't list the contents of it. 
  • Emphasize how your experiences and skills that you've gained are connected to the position and will benefit the organization. 

Hint: It's OK to break this into two paragraphs and use bullets!

Make it easy for them to take the next step. Closing Paragraph

  • Refer to your resume for further details about your experiences and qualifications.
  • Reiterate why you want to work at that specific organization.
  • Offer your contact information.
  • Thank the employer for their time and consideration.

Sincerely,

(Your Signature)

Name

Tips to Make Your Cover Letter Stand Out

  • Customize your cover letter to each position to demonstrate your interest and that you’ve done your research.
  • Feature the right experiences from your resume that make you a perfect fit for the position.
  • Look at the job description and highlight the three things they’re asking for that seem most important.
  • Show your excitement about the position.
  • Be clear and get to the point.
  • Keep it to a single page, pay attention to details (e.g., address the letter specifically to the hiring manager by name).
  • Use the body of the email as your cover letter. Your resume can be an attachment. 
  • Try not to repeat your resume. Instead, describe additional details that you weren’t able to squeeze onto your resume.
  • Proofread, Proofread, Proofread. Ask family or friends to check for spelling and grammatical errors.

What's Next

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