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Career Development Center

» Writing a Cover Letter

Just like a resume, cover letters need extensive work before they can be called perfect and even then, you'll always need to tailor it to any career you may be interested in.   Here you can find cover letter guides that can help really build up and attract your target employer.  

+ - Cover Letter 101

There is a formula to writing a cover letter in four clean paragraphs.

Paragraph 1: (Just the facts): What are you applying for. Where you found this position / if someone referred - you name them here and mention their title. What your year and major is.  The last sentence is designed to set the reader up to review the two important skill sets that you are going to share about yourself that are relevant to the position you are applying for.  These two skill sets are your “X” and “Y”.

Example: I am applying for the Media Marketing Internship that I found on Handshake.  I am currently a junior at Chapman University majoring in Public Relations and Advertising, with a minor in Business Administration.  I am excited to discuss with you how my strong background in PR and Advertising (X), as well as my extensive leadership experiences (Y) make me a perfect candidate for this internship.

Paragraph 2: (Expand on your X): This paragraph should be devoted to your background on “X” using 2-3 examples from your resume.

Paragraph 3: (Expand on your Y): This paragraph should be devoted to your background on “Y” using 2-3 examples from your resume.

Paragraph 4 (The Love Statement): The last thing a person reads will be the first thing that they remember, so it makes perfect sense that your closing paragraph should be personalized to that position.  Your X and Y will be rarely change from one cover letter to the next, so the closing paragraph is your opportunity to tailor your cover letter to every position.

Examples: Talk about why this particular position is so important to you.  Talk about how you connect with their mission statement.  How you are inspired by the work they have created (be specific!).  You could emphasize the amazing learning opportunity.  Admit that they are your dream company.   

There is a reason you want that internship, here is your opportunity to connect with the employer and show them that you are as passionate and invested in what their product is as they are.

 

Make sure to explore the forms below, print them out and use them as guidelines to write the perfect cover letter:

+ - Cover Letter DOs & DON’Ts

DOs:

  • Header on resume and cover letter must be exactly the same
  • Same font, font size, and margins on both resume and cover letter
  • Write your cover letter as if you already had the position – but haven’t started your first day yet
    • Express enthusiasm!
    • If you have a wonderful idea you would like to implement – talk about it!
  • Sign your cover letter
  • Always start your letter with “Dear” (i.e. Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Selection Committee)
  • Make sure that every example of your experience that you refer to is in your resume
  • Talk about your “X” and “Y” that come from your background and experience
  • Personalize your closing paragraph to the specific position

DON’Ts: 

  • Use any negative words in your writing in any context (i.e. “Should you”, “If”, “But”, “However”)
  • Be generic in your closing
  • Begin your letter with: To Whom It May Concern
  • End your letter with: References Available Upon Request
  • Ever talk about a defining experience on your cover letter that is not mention in your resume
  • Make your letter longer than a page
  • Lie about your experiences
  • Have any grammatical or spelling errors  

+ - Cover Letter Examples

You can find some examples of cover letters on this LinkedIn Article.