Cover letters may seem like a simple piece of paper but the content it contains can make or break the odds of getting hired for a job or other opportunity like an internship. Surprisingly, many people do not know the proper components that make for a strong cover letter. While there are references and samples available for free online, it is still important to know how a good cover letter differs from a poor one.
Even if you learned about writing cover letters back in school, it always helps to brush up on those skills. Below are the essential parts that make up a cover letter and how to use that knowledge to tailor the perfect template for all of your professional needs.
This term describes the top part of the letter/page. The first part that needs to appear in the header is your full name and contact information. You always want to include your mailing address, telephone number and email address. This information should be aligned at the top right of the page.
The next part of the header that goes after your information is the date, followed by the info of the company/employer you’re writing to: the name of the company and specific person you are addressing the letter to, the company address and contact information. This part should be aligned on the left page the page.
After putting the header together, you’re now ready to move on to the next step: the introduction.
If you know the name of the specific hiring manager at the company, address him/her by name in your salutation. Don’t know who that person is? Then use the customary “To Whom It May Concern.” The next sentence should have you introducing yourself by name and stating your reason for writing the cover letter (i.e. “I am writing to you today in regards to the open position for [insert job title]”).
The last sentence of your introduction paragraph should briefly state why you believe you’d be a good fit for the job position. Doing this helps to set up the next paragraph/component of the cover letter, which is the argument.
Despite the name, this part of the letter isn’t for arguing. The formula for making this paragraph work is to use the list of strengths/skill set mentioned in the last sentence of the introduction and then explaining what it is about that particular strength or skill set that makes you qualified for the job.
For example, if you stated at the end of the introductory paragraph that you are good at multitasking, have strong communication and problem solving skills, the argument paragraph should contain direct but brief examples/references to serve as proof to back up those claims.
End your cover letter by summarizing briefly why you feel you would be the right choice for the position. Mention your willingness to provide any further information (such as references) and that you look forward to speaking with the company further about the opportunity.
Always end with a formal closing like “Sincerely”, followed by your handwritten signature and printed version of your name.