Cover Letter Writing Guide
Write your first cover letter by downloading the template below and following the step-by-step guide for overall formatting and what to write in each paragraph.
Step 1: Add Your Contact Information
- Use the same heading as on your resume with your name and personal information below it. You can copy and paste the contact information portion of your resume into a new Word document and start from there.
Step 2: Add the Date, Employer Contact Information, & Greeting
- Underneath your contact information, add the full date, the employer’s contact name and address, and your greeting
- Address your letter to the contact person listed in the position description; if there is none, address it as “Dear Hiring Manager”
- Examples: Dear Lorraine Jimenez, Dear Dr. Phillips, Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Hiring Committee
Step 3: The Intro Paragraph
The opening sentence should be an enthusiastic reference to your interest in the position. Talk about what led to your discovery of the position and your unique interest in the role. If someone referred you to the position, mention them by name in the first paragraph.
|Intro paragraph opening sentence examples:|
For a more personal or creative letter, you can add in a very brief (2-3 sentences) anecdote or explanation of why you’re interested in this particular employer or job or feel connected to their values. Regardless of how you organize it, your introductory paragraph should include these four things:
- The specific position title
- The organization name
- Why you’re interested
- Why you’d be a good fit
Step 4: Body Paragraph(s)
Cover letters typically include 1-2 body paragraphs that show employers examples of your previous experience or times when you’ve put your relevant skills to use. These examples should be specific, detailing actions you took, things you learned, and the impact of your work whenever possible.
Everyone’s writing style is unique, but each body paragraph generally includes:
- An opening sentence that introduces what experience, skill, or qualification you’ll be explaining in this paragraph.
- Clear example(s) of what you’ve done or accomplished–be specific! Show, don’t tell.
- A sentence that connects what you’ve done with what you can contribute if hired.
|Good: Telling the employer what you’ve accomplished||Better: Showing the employer what you’ve accomplished|
|“As a shift lead, I demonstrated strong communication skills and leadership to help update our store scheduling system.”||“As a shift lead, I updated our staff training after I learned several students were missing their shifts due to confusion with our new scheduling system. I created a video walk-through of how to review and accept shift schedules and updated the onboarding process manual to dedicate more time to reviewing the system.”|
Step 5: Closing Paragraph
Your closing paragraph will be shorter than your body paragraphs. It should be a concise wrap-up to your letter that…
- Reiterates your most relevant qualifications and your interest in the position in 1-2 sentences
- Optional: You can include one more additional fact or expression of unique connection to the role or employer that you haven’t mentioned in the body paragraphs
- Thanks them for their time and consideration of your application
That’s all there is to it! The process may seem overwhelming at first, but if you write to a specific job description and explain your skills and experience with detail, you’ll be off to a great start.
Get Your Cover Letter Reviewed
- Submit your cover letter to the Career Document Dropbox to get personalized feedback in 2-3 business days
- Schedule a 1:1 appointment with the Career Education team