What should I include on a Cover Letter or Letter of Introduction?

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Celeste from National University asked:

“I am currently working on a Letter of Introduction/Cover Letter template, and I need some guidance on what to include.”

A cover letter is a document that introduces you to the employer. The letter allows you to convey your passion and interests in the position and organization. In addition, it allows the recruiter to assess your written communication skills.

Personally, I love writing cover letters! It can be difficult to discuss how my unique background can be of value to the employer and the letter gives me a chance to connect my skills and experiences to the role, as well as communicate how I can make an impact to the organization.

Before you begin writing your cover letter, it’s important to evaluate the job description and circle or highlight skills you possess that the organization is looking for in a candidate. For example, are they looking for someone who can manage a budget, build relationships or has the ability to coordinate events? If you possess these attributes, circle it! Next, connect the qualifications you circled to an experience from your classes, internship, part-time job, or volunteer experience.

Below, I have provided a breakdown on how to draft your cover letter:

Introduction

Most cover letters begin with this sentence: “I am writing to express my interest in a full-time position…” Imagine if you are a recruiter and read 50+ cover letters that begin with the same sentence? It can become very tedious! I recommend beginning your cover letter with an attention grabbing sentence to set you apart from the competition. This sentence can describe the skills you can offer the organization or an accomplishment you wish to highlight. For example: “With experience managing a budget of $20,000, ability to build relationships with stakeholders, and event management coordination, I would like to apply to…” This sentence is eye-catching and entices the recruiter to want to read more. Click here for more examples on starting your cover letter.

Body

The body is truly the meat and potatoes of your cover letter. In this paragraph, you will describe a situation or example of how you utilized the skills you introduced in the first paragraph. For example, if you highlighted your ability to build relationships, this is your chance to describe how you built and maintained relationships with stakeholders in your previous experience(s). I recommend sharing 2-3 stories in your body and keeping them concise. Being able to illustrate how you have demonstrated these skills is imperative and provides evidence that you possess these attributes.

Also, it’s important to demonstrate fit with the organization and describe why you are interested in them. This will help your cover letter stand out and effectively tailor the document to the company. For example, does the organization have a strong Corporate Social Responsibility mission that you identify with? Then, in a few sentences, describe how your values connect with the company’s.

Conclusion

After you thank the employer for their time, it’s important to end your letter with a strong finish and ask for an interview. Here are sample endings to use for your conclusion.

As you begin writing your letter, be enthusiastic and demonstrate how you can make an impact to the organization. Here is another helpful article to refer to as you start writing.

Once you create a rough draft, I encourage you to schedule an appointment with a career advisor at National University’s career center for feedback. You can schedule an appointment here.

Best,
Jessica


About the Author

Jessica Johnson

Jessica Johnson is a career service professional with 6 years experience advising undergraduate and graduate students. Currently, she serves as a Career Advisor of Graduate Students and Special Populations at the Universities of Shady Grove in Maryland. Prior to her current role, she was a Career Management Advisor at the Kogod School of Business at American University where she advised undergraduate business students and taught career development classes. In addition, Jessica developed employer relationships and connected them to students as a member of the employer relations team at University of Baltimore. Jessica is certified administrator of the Strong Interest Inventory assessment, Gallup- Certified Strengths Coach, and has earned the Career Development Facilitator certificate.

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