How to Write a Cover Letter

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cover letter, cover letter tips

So you finished filling out that job, internship, or school application; you finally wrote or updated your resume; so the last thing you probably want to do is write that cover letter. Well, CoFo’s got your back! We’ll help you knock out cover letter step-by-step:

Before getting started, here are a few reminders:

  • A cover letter is complementary to your resume, so use it to highlight and expand on your resume bullet points.
  • A cover letter should be brief, so keep it to one-page max!
  • Be specific and use descriptive language.
  • Proofread! Don’t submit a cover letter with any grammatical errors.

Set up the cover letter outline

Your cover letter must include the following:

  • A header with your contact information ‒ the same one as your resume
    • If you have a portfolio or Linkedin, you can hyperlink it in your header
    • Include your city and state. It’s not necessary to include your full address. 
  • The date
  • A salutation/greeting, such as “Dear Hiring Manager” or“Dear [first and last name].” Avoid “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, etc.
    • You can use LinkedIn or the company website to find the name of the Human Resources employees. 
  • Opening paragraph
  • Body  paragraph(s)
  • Closing paragraph
  • Formal letter closing and signature

Write your opening paragraph. This is where you want to make a good first impression.

Address the following bullet points:

  • State the title/position you’re applying for and where you saw or heard about the position posting.
  • State your interest in the role and company. Pick an aspect of the company that personally stands out to you. 
    • You can find information about the company’s philosophy or programming on their website. Including something that stands out which is not immediately apparent shows you took the extra time to research the company. 

Briefly state the experience or qualification that makes you a good fit for the role. You will give more detail in the following paragraphs.

Write your body paragraph(s)

This is where you sell yourself! Address the following bullet points:

  •  Provide a brief overview of your background and experience as is relevant to the position. Make sure to include:
  • Skills and areas of knowledge that align with the position description.
  •  Key achievements‒ mention one to two and include details about measurable results and impacts you made.
  • Relevant research you conducted related to the job description. 
  • This will be the employer’s first opportunity to get to know you as an individual, so be genuine and let your personality come through your words. 
  • It’s okay to brag on yourself here. 
  • Instead of repeating information that is on your resume, tell the story behind what is shown on your resume.
  • Tell the employer “how” rather than just “what”.

Write your closing paragraph.

Finally, wrap it up and summarize! Address the following bullet points:

  • Summarize why you’re applying for the role and why you’d be a great fit.
  • Thank the hiring person for their time and consideration.
  • Mention that you’re looking forward to hearing from them.
  • End with “Sincerely, [your name]”.

Send your cover letter to your CoFo Coach or mentor!

Having more eyes on your cover letter can help you spot things you may not have noticed on your own. Your Coach is more than happy to read over your cover letter and provide feedback

Save as a PDF!

Once you’ve made your final edits, be sure to save your cover letter as a PDF and name it “[first name]-[last name]-cover-letter.” Always send your cover letter as an attachment unless otherwise instructed. If you’re sending it through email check out this template on how to email a cover letter

Check out some sample cover letters below!



Check out CoFo’s Learning Plan: Cover Letters Made Easy on IBM SkillsBuild, where CoFo students can explore activities that will set them up for cover letter success!


Join College Forward on SkillsBuild for access to more of our Learning Plans! Click here to register


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