How to write a cover letter

Today’s job market is competitive—ven to work at a fast food joint. So how do you stand out from the crowd? You need a cover letter, and it needs to be well written. A cover letter is submitted along with your résumé or application. It’s basically a one-page letter that a potential employer can scan to find out why you’re interested in the job and your qualifications. The cover letter should expand on your résumé, but shouldn’t repeat everything.

Your cover letter can make or break the job for you—if you write a sloppy one (e.g., with typos or poor grammar) you could be denied an interview. But a good one can help you seal the deal. Here are some tips for writing an awesome cover letter:

  • Keep it to one page. Get to the point about why you’re the best candidate for the job and use examples. While the story of your life might be interesting, this isn’t the place to share it. Employers don’t have time to read through long cover letters, and the important information could get lost.
  • Tailor your letter to the job opportunity. Show some knowledge about the position and the company.
  • Show some personality, but don’t be gimmicky. What does that mean? Try to let your natural way of speaking come through in the letter, but avoid text speak or using spelling, words, or phrases that you might find in urban dictionary (for example: You probs shouldn’t talk about your twerking skillz, lol).
  • Use your computer’s spell-checker. Then use your brain to spell-check. Then ask someone else to spell-check it for you. Trust us: You don’t want to misspell anything.
  • Avoid putting in jokes or trying to be funny; it often falls flat. Save your sense of humor for when you have the job.

Your cover letter should be split into three parts:

  • Opening paragraph—state why you are writing and give a little information about who you are.
  • Middle paragraphs (two to three)—highlight a few points from your résumé and use examples from your experience to show why you are the best person for the job. For example: “Volunteering in the child care department at the YMCA taught me leadership skills, professionalism, and organization.”
  • Closing statement—request an interview and thank the person for their time.

+ Use this resource to find some sample cover letters