The Cover Letter
The central aim of a well-written cover letter is to spark a potential employer’s interest in your resume. Consequently, it is imperative not only for your cover letter to be entirely flawless, but that it be tailored towards the particular opening that you are seeking. In order to do so, you must convey clearly and succinctly why you will best contribute to the company over other qualified applicants.
Formatting an Effective Cover Letter
I. Contact Information: It is important that your contact information be displayed in a manner that will make it simple for your employer to contact you. Similar to the format of a standard resume, include your name, address and contact information in the top left corner of your cover letter. Below your personal information should be the employer’s contact information, followed by a formal salutation to your potential employer. Ideally, you should address the cover letter directly to your employer (i.e. Dear Mr. John Smith), but if you are unaware of his or her name, you may also substitute with “to whom it may concern.”
II. First Paragraph: The introduction of your cover letter is intended for you to express why it is you are writing. Assert the position that you are applying for and how you came to learn of the opening. Be sure to convey that you have fully researched the opening for which you are applying and that you have an appreciation of how the company functions. Conclude the introductory paragraph by beginning to explain why the position at this specific company appeals to you.
III. Core Paragraphs: Here is where you make the case that you have the necessary skills, experience and knowledge to effectively perform the tasks required of this position. It is vital to touch upon any personal experience—whether it be academic, extracurricular, or professional—that is relevant towards the position you are seeking. Do not just repeat bullet points on your resume—instead, try to weave a personal story from your previous experiences that communicates your genuine interest in the job opening. Upon reading this paragraph, your employer should be aware that you are not only uniquely qualified for this position, but that you are motivated to perform the required tasks to the best of your ability.
IV. Concluding Paragraph: Several points must be articulated in your final paragraph. It is crucial to warmly thank your employer for taking the time to read your cover letter and considering you for the position. Reiterate your sincere interest in securing the position and that you are looking forward to further communication with their company. Formally conclude the letter, and leave your employer with the sense that while you are earnestly interested in the job opening, you are nonetheless not in a desperate situation.