Writing Cover Letters: Making a Good First Impression

View Worksheet

Writing cover letters is the most important aspect of your job search. A cover letter is read before you resume, so if you cannot capture the interest of a prospective employer with a great cover letter, your resume is unlikely to even have a chance.

Before writing cover letters, you need to understand the purpose of this employment document. A cover letter accomplishes the following:

  • Provides a way to introduce yourself and your resume to a prospective employer
  • Discusses the reason you are applying for a
  • Shows how you are a good fit to a particular company
  • Showcases your skills and abilities
  • Builds your credibility in the eyes of prospective employers
  • Displays your writing skills
  • Addresses the specific needs of a prospective employer while explaining how you fit those needs
  • Shows how your professional goals mesh with the company’s and your skills with the position

Importance of writing good cover letters

Writing a good cover letter makes or breaks your chance for landing an interview. Doing research and completing due diligence about the company and position expectations is ultimately how you can make your cover letter stand out from other applicants. Preparing to write cover letters is a process involving examining job postings closely and researching both the company and the position.

What to include when writing cover letters

Once you have done the preparation work for writing cover letters, you are ready to start formulating your own. The basic premise behind writing a cover letter is in marketing yourself in the best light and in a way that addresses the specific needs of a company. The following is information you should include when writing cover letters:

  • Keywords in the job posting that give you an idea of what the prospective employer is seeking
  • Relationship between keywords and your skills, abilities and achievements
  • Skills and qualifications that are transferable to the position for which you are applying—get specific!
  • Anything that shows an employer what you have offer

While incorporating information about your skills, achievements and experience while writing cover letters, make sure you are not duplicating information from your resume. Remember, writing the cover letter is about introducing yourself effectively and making a good first impression. When you do that, employers move on to looking at your resume.

Format for writing cover letters

Writing cover letters involves presenting the right information in the right order. The overall format of your cover letter involves four sections: a heading, an introductory section, a persuasion section and a closing section. Detailed below is the information you should include in each section.

Heading:

  • Your name, address, phone number and email address
  • The current date
  • Company contact information for the company to which you are applying

Whenever you are writing cover letters, make sure to address it to the person who makes hiring decisions whenever possible. A directly addressed letter increases your chances of getting your cover letter (and resume) noticed.

Introduction section:

  • Write a little about yourself and the reason you are writing
  • Mention how you learned about the job opening
  • Explain why you are interested in the position
  • Provide a brief explanation of your professional goals and values and how they match up with company’s

Persuasion section

When writing cover letters, this section is where you make your strongest case. Your persuasion should include the following approaches:

  • Demonstrate how your skills fit the company goals and position requirements
  • Make an argument for the value you bring to the company
  • For every reason an employer should hire you, create an individual paragraph
  • Demonstrate in each paragraph how the company can benefit
  • Use your resume as a reference point without simply duplicating information

Closing section:

  • Reiterate how and why you are a good fit with the company
  • Readdress how you can help the company
  • State when you intend to contact the person again
  • Include your phone number and the best time to reach you
  • Include your email address
  • Express your thanks to the person for their time and consideration

Wrap up writing cover letters with an appropriate and professional closing, and physically sign your name between the closing and your typed name. Always make sure to proofread your cover letter carefully, as simple mistakes in your cover letter or resume are some of the most common resume mistakes that can cost you an interview. Write concisely, honestly and powerfully, and never downplay your strengths because writing cover letters is your first chance to make a good impression.