News and Updates

10 things to Know about U-Design

My guide to writing a bomb cover letter



You’re an old pro at crafting your resume to catch employers’ eyes, but a cover letter? Say what now? Everyone has heard of that strange, elusive document before. But chances are unless you’ve applied for a job or a certain internship, you’ve never had to write one. But fear not! I'm here to save you. You’re about to learn the ways of writing a cover letter so you can land that job and teach all your friends (and then feel super cool).

WHAT A COVER LETTER IS (A.K.A. WHAT TO DO):


The conundrums your cover letter should be able to answer “(1) Is it clean? (2) Does it demonstrate that the applicant researched the publication and has a good faith basis for believing they are a good fit, and (3) Does it tell a story?”

The most important thing about cover letters to keep in mind: It’s okay to brag. And actually, you should. Employers first learn about you in your cover letter, so you want it to create a good reflection of who you are and make a good argument for why you should get the job. The most important thing to remember is to be yourself, but also highlight your strengths and accomplishments

WHAT A COVER LETTER IS NOT (AKA WHAT NOT TO DO):

A cover letter shouldn’t be a mere recitation of the resume. Also, know that a cover letter is not a biography or even an essay. It’s a letter, just like its name suggests. Your cover letter shouldn’t run longer than a page if even that. The ideal length ranges to around four paragraphs, which sounds daunting, but if you use the suggested breakdown below, you should be good to go.

COVER LETTER BREAKDOWN:

Paragraph 1:

Your first paragraph, otherwise known as the introduction, should introduce you and why you’re writing. Think of it as the opening paragraph of a news story. It should answer all your “W’s”—who you are, what you’re applying for when you want the position, where you are in your education (as in what school you attend, where it is and what year you’re in) and why you’re the best option to hire.

Paragraph 2:

In the second paragraph expand upon your first, particularly in terms of your education and experience. Connect the dots in a cover letter. Explain how the experiences you’ve had and the person you’ve become as a result have led you to the point where you can honestly say you’d [be] of use to the employer. Try to pick the two or three most important or applicable experiences to the job and describe them succinctly. Here you may copy a bit from your resume. It’s also the place where you get to brag the most, so make sure your pride shines through.

Paragraph 3:

This paragraph involves discussing your transferrable skills. Here you can show off things not mentioned in your resume and your knowledge about the position you’re applying to. Be deliberate about which skills you discuss and be specific when explaining why those skills are relevant to a particular job. You want to show an employer that you’re interested in the job they’re offering, not just a generic job (even if that might be the case).

Paragraph 4:

This follows a pretty basic formula. Make to restate the position you’re applying for (full title and all). Very briefly restate your credentials and say you’re both qualified for and interested in the job. Always end with a sentence that says something like, “thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.” Finally, sign your name at the end. While you don’t have to physically sign it, closing with “Sincerely, [your name]” not only fits the letter format but gets your name in their head one last time.

Always end your cover letter with a strong closing statement. The closing statement will either make or break your cover letter. Remind the employer how and why you are qualified for the job in one sentence. Tie everything together by giving the location of work samples. Avoid language such as “I hope to hear from you soon.” Instead, include a more assertive closing like, “I’d love to discuss the position in further detail.” This will allow the employer to see how interested you actually are.