Each cover letter needs to be tailored to demonstrate how you can meet the employer's needs. Writing a "template" can hurt your application, as these letters measure whether you are really interested in their position. They may also be viewed as writing samples and used to make an easy connection with a qualified applicant. Your cover letter is a story that connects you and the organization and is similar to a persuasive essay demonstrating your qualifications.
Content and Format
Give examples, be concise and convey authentic interest.
Your letter will have three main parts: The Hook (introduction), the Pitch (body) and the Close (conclusion).
Sending Cover Letters
If a letter is sent via email, consider attaching the letter (and your resume) as a PDF file rather than writing the letter in the body of the email. In the email, you can let the employer know which position you are applying for and that your resume and cover letter are attached.
Use our Anatomy of a Cover Letter (pdf) to see the format put together and examples of sentences. To keep your writing individual and strong, do not copy the language.
Review cover letter video trainings and more from LinkedIn Learning provided free by Brandeis. Find videos on application materials, interviewing, following up and practice scenarios.
Checklist for a Successful Cover Letter
Is your cover letter …
- No more than one page?
- Formatted correctly?
- Free from grammatical and spelling errors?
- Addressed to a specific person? Call or research online to find the appropriate name and title. If no information is available, consider using "Dear Hiring Manager/Internship Coordinator/Selection Committee."
- Targeted toward a specific employer? Use keywords from the job description or organization's website or mission statement.
- Specific, citing explicit examples to highlighting your skills?
- Written in active voice?
Focused on your match with the company and what YOU can bring to THEM (rather than the other way around)?
- Consistent with your resume (i.e., on the same high-quality paper and using the same font and contact information)?