A Guide to Mastering Cover Letters


The first stage toward landing a job is writing a cover letter that makes employers want to give you an interview. This may be a new experience for you if you’re still in college, but it’s not dissimilar to a college admission essay. A major difference is that AI often assesses cover letters, particularly at large companies that receive many job applications. The good news is you can master cover letters by keeping in mind a few basic best practices.

1. Choose an Appropriate Font

Before you write a single word of your cover letter, make sure you’re using a professional font — this is no place to be experimental to stand out. In fact, a classic like Times New Roman is ideal.

2. Address the Right Person

Find out who will be receiving your cover letter by looking at the name on the job listing or addressing your letter directly to the employer. Start the letter with “Dear” followed by a title. You should be able to find the person’s title on LinkedIn. Failing that, you can call the company and ask a receptionist. This will help you avoid misgendering someone, which is an especially big risk if the person has a gender-neutral name.

3. Make the Purpose of Your Letter Clear

Don’t assume the person receiving your cover letter will know what job you’re applying for — the company may have several open positions. Begin your cover letter with a sentence that explains that you want the employer to consider you for the particular role that you’re interested in. Mention where and when you saw the job advertised and include any reference number.

4. Add a Quick Introduction

Briefly give some key details about yourself. This should include what college you attend, your major, and your year. This will allow the person reading the letter to quickly decide whether you’re likely to be qualified — and, therefore, whether it’s worth reading on.

5. Explain Why You Want to Work at the Company

Talk about why you want to work at the specific company. This is important because it’s common for applicants to send almost-identical letters to multiple companies. Making it clear that the cover letter is unique for the specific position will impress employers and let them know you have a genuine interest in working for them. For instance, you could mention something you like about the company or how the position fits your career goals.

6. Give Examples of Your Skills

Rather than just saying that you possess the skills mentioned in the job post, demonstrate how this is true. Anyone can list qualities they think an employer wants — it’s much more impressive if you can provide real-life examples. These could be through experience you’ve gained while a student, at other jobs, and during internships.

7. Keep It Short

Employers don’t want to spend hours reading cover letters. Make yours appealing by keeping it concise and to the point. Once you’ve included all the above information, simply close with a note of thanks — there’s no need to think of other ways to add more details.

8. Add Your Contact Information to the Bottom

You’re likely attaching a resume to your cover letter, but the two could become separated. Plus, it’s inconvenient for employers to look for your contact information elsewhere. For these reasons, it’s important to include your contact details on your cover letter. It’s also useful to note when you’re available for an interview and to mention when you’ll follow up if you don’t hear from the employer — to show you’re serious about the position.

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