How to Write an Effective Cover Letter
By: Sabriyah Arain
When applying for a job or internship, a company may ask you to submit a cover letter along with your resume. A cover letter is an important document in that it gives you an opportunity to differentiate yourself from other applicants. It allows you to show how your specific experience and background can help benefit the company.
A cover letter serves as an introductory letter to your employer of interest. It answers the question “Why should we hire you?”. The letter is typically a one-page document that is written in 12-point, Times New Roman font. It is typed out using block formatting, which means that there is no indent when a new paragraph starts. Instead, a line space is put between each new paragraph to separate the sections. The cover letter consists of five different parts. These are the heading, greeting, first paragraph, mid-section, and closing section. We will now go into detail about how to write each section. All examples will be in bold font to make them easy to spot, but you should keep your text in normal font when writing your own cover letter.
First is the heading. Your heading on your cover letter should be in the same format as the heading on your resume. Employers favor consistent formatting between the documents. As in your resume, your heading should include your name, phone number, email, and LinkedIn URL. Below is an example that includes the student’s address, but it is now considered standard to replace this information with your LinkedIn URL.
Next is your greeting. Your greeting will go on the left-hand side of the document. It will first list today’s date completely written out. Then, you will make a few line spaces to separate the date from the rest of the greeting. The next part of the greeting will include the addressee’s name, his or her professional title, the organization’s name, the organization’s mailing address, and the city, state, and zip code. All of these requirements will be on separate lines. Lastly, after making one more line space, you will write “Dear _____,” and address the particular individual you are writing to. Below is an example.
February 20, 2021
Ms. Patricia Alvarez
Internship Coordinator, University Relations Dell Computer Corporation
2214 West Braker Lane
Austin, TX 78758
Dear Ms. Alvarez:
The third section of the cover letter will be the first paragraph. This section will serve as an introduction and will explain the purpose of the letter. It is usually two to three sentences in length. You should be specific about the company and position you are applying for as well as include the source where you learned about the position. Popular sources may include LinkedIn, Handshake, or the company’s website. Below is an example.
I am writing to apply for an internship with your marketing department for this coming summer. After attending the Career Fair hosted by the University of Kentucky, I met with Jim Jones and Sally Smith who sparked my interest in Dell Technologies. I was glad to hear about the tight-knit cohort of new associates that Dell facilitates as well as pairing new associates with a designated mentor. I am excited about the opportunity to work with such a collaborative and cohesive team!
The fourth section of your letter will be the mid-section. This is the main section of your cover letter where you are given the opportunity to tell the employer why you are the right candidate for the position. This section is usually one to two paragraphs. In the mid-section, you explain how you are qualified for the position. You relate your skills and experiences to the job description of the position you are applying for. You will likely have these skills and experiences written on your resume as well, but the cover letter is where you will be able to go into more detail about how they coincide with the particular company and position. It is important that in this section you show how YOU can help THEM, not how they can help you. You should tell the employer why you are interested in the company and how you can help them succeed. Below is an example.
As a junior marketing major and business analytics minor, I have acquired a great deal of relevant coursework necessary to succeed in a professional marketing internship. My favorite course so far has been market research where I truly found my passion for connecting the customer’s needs to the solutions a company canoffer. In this class, we worked with a local non-profit to target their top donors and find the ‘why’ behind theirgiving so we could showcase the parts of the organization that resonate with them. Ultimately, we increased charitable giving for the non-profit by 6% after our market research.
My work experience in direct sales, food and beverage, and architecture has provided me a keen sense of professionalism, a strong work ethic, and sensitivity to customer satisfaction. Past supervisors have affirmed my time management skills and attention to detail. I feel more than prepared to join Dell’s corporateenvironment where integrity and responsibility are highly valued.
The last section is the closing section. This includes the last paragraph of the letter along with your signature. In this section, you will initiate action by mentioning interest in meeting in the future to discuss the opportunity. You will also give your contact information so that the employer will know how to get in touch with you. Lastly, you will sign your name at the bottom of the letter. It is common to sign your actual signature between “Sincerely,” and your typed-out name. This gives the letter a more personal touch. Below is an example of a closing section without the actual signature included.
I look forward to hearing from you and further discussing my candidacy. I am excited to discuss further how my background and experience will be an asset to Dell. You can reach me at (859) 123-4567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Thank you for your consideration!
A cover letter can be the document that helps employers realize you are the right fit for a position. It is important to make sure you put your best self forward in your letter to show a company all of the assets you could bring to them. If you need any additional assistance writing a cover letter, please do not hesitate to make an appointment with the Graham Office!