Writing a Winning Cover Letter

A cover letter is a letter to a prospective job stating why you are interested and qualified for the position.  When writing, it is important to state what specifically about the position or company interests you.  This is a chance for you to highlight your skills, accomplishments, and what you will bring to the job if hired.    

There is a standard format for a cover letter that you should follow.  The cover letter should have a formal business heading, have three to four short paragraphs, and be about 3/4 of a page total.

The first step in writing a cover letter is to figure out why you are interested in the position or company.

Next, look at the job description. Figure out what skills or traits are required, and determine which of those you possess.

Then, pick two or three previous jobs or experiences that are similar to the position.  Describe specific examples of successful situations or times when you benefited the company to highlight the skillset you can bring to a new position.

A cover letter is not the place to explain why you left or are leaving a job. These negatives are best said in person during the interview so that you can explain to them if asked.  Rather, use this to explain how your previous jobs will help you be successful in a new position.

Follow these strategies to make your cover letter stand out:

  • Use formal language, punctuation, and size 11 or 12 Times New Roman, black font
  • Sign your name in blue ink pen
  • If emailing, always send file in PDF format
  • Stay positive – never mention anything negative about a previous employment experience
  • Don’t discuss salary
  • Do not use a template found online
  • Use statistics and numbers to support your statements of success
  • Don’t just repeat your resume
  • Address the cover letter to the person who will be interviewing you, if that information is available