A cover letter can make or break your job application. It allows you to portray your communication skills and personality more effectively than a resume, and it’s the prime medium to stand out from other applicants.
Not everyone is the most skilled writer, but knowing what to include in your cover letter will make the process less painful.
The top line of your cover letter should always include your name, address, phone number and email. After your personal information is written, the date, company name and address of the headquarters or location of the company you’re applying to should also be listed. Writing a professional heading using this template shows you’ve done your due diligence on the company and hints at technical writing skills as well.
Think of this as the thesis for your cover letter. This section should still be relatively formal, explicitly stating what role you’re applying for and how you heard about the opening. This closing sentence of the introductory paragraph should be an excerpt about your professional schooling (year in school, major, minor, etc.) and why you’re the best fit for the job. This will be the basis for the body section of your cover letter, so spend extra time here.
The body paragraphs should be focused on how you believe you will fit in with the organization and how you can contribute to the company’s success. Focus on developing your thesis from the intro—why are you the best fit for the job? Employers are looking to see how you’ll fit in with them. After all, they’re hiring you for a specific role within the company.
A formal concluding paragraph should list your availability and thank the prospective employer for their time. There are other ways to conclude this section in unique ways too—try pitching an idea about how you believe you could help the company, or mention how the position fits in with your personal goals in life. Employers love seeing self-motivation and initiative from prospective employees.
A cover letter is not the place to talk about your accomplishments—employers should be reading your resume for that. Instead, speak to unique abilities and skills you’ll contribute to the company, how they align with the company’s values and how they’ll complement the company’s greater vision. The company wants to be able to see how you’ll fit within the workplace. Spend extra time on your cover letter—it’s your opportunity to make a great first impression!
What else do you recommend for a cover letter? Tell us in the comments.
Michal is triple majoring in Finance, Marketing and Management-Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Illinois. He’s also minoring in Spanish and is fluent in Polish. In addition, Michal is a part of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society. He was also in a fraternity for a semester, during which he co-founded his own club.
Currently, Michal is working on a solar powered Wi-Fi startup called Mesh++ and is also in the business of helping people with their health and mentoring them in getting into business for themselves. After school, Michal hopes to continue his entrepreneurial ventures, start his own hedge fund and eventually run his own music label, as well as music festival.
In his free time Michal loves to glove, dance and listen to music. If you go to a music festival over the summer, there’s a good chance you’ll find Michal there. He also loves staying active so traveling, hiking and snowboarding take up most of his vacation time.
When he’s not growing his businesses or taking spontaneous vacations (he’s already been in Colorado, Florida and Minnesota this year), Michal really loves reading and listening to podcasts. He believes the secret to a fruitful life is personal development and growing into a person of influence. Every day, he tries to be the best version of himself so he can help magnify the potential in others.
Michal looks forward to meeting and working with everyone at Cengage!