How to Write a Killer Cover Letter

So, there’s one thing that I’ve been kind of secretive about lately, but it’s not because I didn’t want to talk about it. I think it’s mostly because I had kind of forgotten it was happening (with me being abroad and all) and remembered at the very last minute that I had to do something about it.

As you may or may not know, I’m going to be on a second internship this winter! This one is going to be much shorter than the last one (15 weeks instead of 30), but it sounds very fun so I’m excited. I’ll be back on the south shore of Montreal for 4 months.

Writing the perfect cover letter is hard. But I think I've mastered the art of impressing employers. Click through to find out how to write a killer cover letter and get a free work book with a template for your cover letters and 3 examples!

But getting a new internship means that I had to craft a resume and get through interviews once again (you can read all my interview tips here), but I also did something new this time: I had to write a cover letter. I never had to do that before, and it was my first time ever writing one (or, in my case, many). After much research and trials and errors, I think I have finally mastered the recipe to the perfect cover letter (I got the internship, so I guess that’s a good sign, haha). Not only am I sharing with you how to write a killer cover letter, but you can also get a template based on mine so you can start writing yours!

Download the work book to get a cover letter template and 3 examples!

Content

A cover letter should not be longer than a page. Its purpose is basically to explain why you want the job and why you would be good at it. Think of it as an extension of your resume (get some tips on how to boost your resume as a college student here!). The cover letter allows you to elaborate a little bit more on things you didn’t have room for in your resume. Here’s how to divide your cover letter:

1. The sender’s address

You always start your cover letter with the way you would any other letter: with your name and address at the top. This lets the receiver know a little more about you.

2. Date

Next comes the date when you’re writing the letter. If you’re using a template, make sure to double-check this! It would be weird to send out a letter that was written in 2016, for example.

3. The receiver’s address

This is where things start getting personal. Not only do you want to include the address of the company you’re applying to, but you’ll also want to include the name and title of the person who’ll be reading the letter. If you don’t know, just put the address, but knowing adding that little detail can put your application on the top of the pile!

4. Greeting

When you’re writing a letter, it’s important to formally address the individual you’re writing to formally, unless you know them extremely well. It’s even more important when you’re writing a cover letter because chances are you don’t know the person who’ll be reading your cover letter. I’d recommend starting your letter off in the regular, cliché way “Dear…”, if you know to whom the letter is being sent. I also like to add their title (Ms./M.) to their last name. In the end, it would look like “Dear M. Something” or “Dear Ms. Something”. Addressing the person makes it more personal and it’ll catch their attention more! It shows personal initiative and attention to detail, which can make your resume stand out.

But, there are cases when you just don’t know who’ll be reading the letter. I was in this exact situation for my internship applications, so I know what it’s like. If that’s your case, I would just write “To whom this may concern”, or something similar. Yes, it’s less personal, but at least you’re starting your letter properly.

If need more info on greetings and formal business writing, check out this website! They have a lot of helpful tips and can provide inspiration to start off your letters right.

5. Body of the letter

This is where the fun begins! Once the template is taken care of, now is finally the time to start actually writing the letter. Though there is kind of formula to the perfect cover letter, you can still be creative and innovative in this section (it’s the only place you can!).

The first paragraph should be one or two sentences explaining what job you’re applying for and how you learned about it. Remember to be concise and specific. This is just the introduction so there’s no need for unnecessary fluff!

The rest of your letter’s body is pretty much up to you! The important thing to remember is to demonstrate your qualifications. Pick the most important ones from your resume and demonstrate how your past experience relates to the current job description. Your cover letter is the opportunity to show the employer that you’re the best candidate there is on the market for the job, and that they should give you the job, so don’t be afraid to stand out!

I’d recommend concluding your cover letter with a short paragraph of one or two sentences thanking the employer for their time. Don’t forget to request an interview!

6. Signature

This is pretty self-explanatory… haha.

That’s it! Cover letters seem fairly easy to write, but they can actually be quite tricky. But if you follow this recipe, you’re sure to write a killer one!

Download the work book to get a cover letter template and 3 examples!

A few extra tips to make your cover letter stand out…

  • Be specific. When writing your cover letter, always make sure to provide specific examples. This will show that you understand the tasks that the job entails and it will prove that you are qualified for it. If you don’t have any working experience, you can still find relevant experiences within your volunteer work, whether it is through school, extracurriculars or hobbies (such as blogging!).
  • Don’t reveal everything! While your cover letter is an opportunity to elaborate on what is on your resume, make sure not to reveal everything. You want to make sure to leave things for the interview! Pick a few relevant examples an elaborate on those. As it’s the case in blogging, focus on quality over quantity. It’s better to have 2 really strong examples that are directly linked to the job you’re applying to than having 5 small examples that are not really linked to the tasks at hand.
  • Mention your resume, but don’t just repeat what you’ve stated there. You should mention that you’re also sending them your resume so they can have a better look at your qualifications and past experience, but don’t just copy and paste the info from your resume onto your cover letter. That’s a big no-no! The point of the cover letter is to explain why you’re applying and to go one step further than what is written on your resume. You probably won’t be able to elaborate on every single item that is on your resume, and that’s totally okay!
  • Keep a formal, but conversational tone. You want your letter to be formal and show respect to whoever is reading it, but try to make it engaging! Don’t be afraid to be creative and to let your personality shine!
  • Tailor your cover letter to each company you’re applying to. Chances are, every job offer you’re applying to is different, so make sure your cover letter is tailored to every single one of them! Yes, I know it can be a pain in the ass, but it’ll make all the difference in the world, I promise! You’ll obviously want to change the basic info (address, greeting, etc.) of each letter, but also tailor the content. For instance, if you’re applying for a job where social media is key and one in event planning, the experiences you’ll showcase will be different. You won’t push the same things forward for both jobs because both require different sets of skills.

Now that you know how to craft a killer cover letter, it’s time for you to write your own! In case you need inspiration, you can see examples on this page. But because I want to make it as easy as possible for you, I’ve decided to share with you a template that you can use based on my cover letters! Not only will you be able to see what a cover letter looks like physically, but you can also see what it should read like. You’ll get 3 examples + a template that you can adapt to your needs. All you have to do is click on the button below and put in your email and they’ll be directly delivered to your inbox!

Download the work book to get a cover letter template and 3 examples!

  • Love this post Amelie! I am definitely going to share this on my Pinterest account. You did such a great job explaining everything here!

    • Thank you so much, Amanda!

  • I love this! Cover letters are probably one of the hardest things about the job application process in my opinion, and you did a great job of breaking it all down.

    • Thanks Katrina! And I agree, cover letters are probably the hardest thing about the whole job hunting process! So glad you found this helpful.