How Do You Write a Cover Letter?

The first step to composing a good cover letter is to learn as much as you can about the position or organization you are applying to. After all, you want your letter to be as personalized as you can make it. Employers can usually tell when you’re sending them a generic form letter, and it makes you look like you don’t care about your job search.

Take a careful look at the requirements for the job. Research the company you are applying to. What are their values? What kind of products do they make, or what kind of services do they provide? It will pay off to show that you’re knowledgeable in your letter, particularly if you can show that you have a particular affinity for the company or appreciate its company philosophy.

If you can, address the letter specifically to the hiring agent who will be reading it. If you spoke with this person before, remind this person of when you spoke and what you spoke about. This will help to foster a connection with this individual and improve your chances of getting an interview.

Hiring managers don’t spend a lot of time looking at job applications, so you want to keep your letter to one page. If it’s too long, don’t simply reduce the font size; edit the text. Your employer will likely appreciate that you can organize your thoughts and communicate clearly and succinctly.

Use formal English! If you have trouble with spelling and grammar, have your letter edited by somebody.

Part 1: Heading

Put your name and contact information at the top of the page.

Part 2: The Intro

In your opening paragraph, you want to tell the reader who you are and what position you are applying for. This is also where you should identify the individual who referred you to the opening, if applicable. Describe how you heard about the position and briefly introduce the qualifications that you will be discussing in your following paragraphs. Keep it short, and get to the point!

Part 3: Body

At this part of the letter, you want to spend one or two paragraphs elaborating on your qualifications. The object here is to make your experience relevant to the position you are applying for. Talk about specific experiences to illustrate your skills and accomplishments, and refer to the requirements of the job to make it clear that you understand what will be expected of you. If the company has any particular philosophy or values that you can relate to, this is also the place to bring that up. Use action words as much as you can (see our resume guide for more about action words).

Part 4: Conclusion

Wrap up your letter by reiterating your interest and experience related to the position. Express that you are eager to arrange an interview to discuss the position further, and describe your availability. Only state that you will follow up with a phone call if the job listing does not specifically tell you not to call.

Part 5: Closing

End with “Sincerely” or something equally professional and polite, then skip four lines and type your full name. If you are printing out your letter, sign your name between “Sincerely” and your typed name.