Make an effective first impression
A cover letter is a tool to market yourself, and most employers expect it to be submitted with your resume. Give the employer a few well-written, passionate, and relevant reasons to read your resume and interview you. This is your chance to make yourself stand out from other candidates!
Your cover letter shows that you are:
- Qualified- include the ways you meet/exceed the requirements listed in the job posting
- Confident- provide concrete examples of your experience, using keywords and phrases relevant to the job/industry
- Excited- sincerely express your passion for the role and the company/organization
- Future-focused- explain how your skills and your past experience will meet the employer's needs
A cover letter is a professional business communication, and business letter format is expected. Your formatting and style choices should be consistent with your resume. Focus on making your document easy to read and nice to look at. Unless otherwise requested by the employer, keep your cover letter to one page in length.
Sections of a Cover Letter
In order of appearance:
- Your name, city, province, email address
- Date that you will submit your application
- Name of hiring manager/contact person (if possible) with company name and address
- Greeting: try to use person’s name (e.g. "Dear Ms. Smith") - if you don't have a specific name, use "Hiring Manager" rather than "To Whom it May Concern"
- Regarding line (optional) that includes the position title and/or competition number
- 1 paragraph
- Introduce yourself and express why you are interested in the job and company
- Make a connection with the employer and give an overview of what you have to offer
- Include referrals or connections to the employer (e.g. "We met at the University of Lethbridge Career Fair and spoke about...")
- 1-3 paragraphs
- Emphasize specific knowledge and skills that make you a strong candidate for the job
- Provide specific examples of how you have demonstrated the qualities the employer is looking for, focusing on the needs that the employer highlighted in the job posting
- Avoid simply repeating your resume - add value, be personable in tone, and show enthusiasm
- Rather than emphasizing how the opportunity will benefit you, think like an employer and make it clear how you will benefit the organization
- Don't start all of your sentences with "I"; instead, try phrases like "Throughout my...", "In addition...", "My experience...", or "In my role..."
- 1 paragraph
- State in positive, respectful language that you would welcome an interview at the employer's convenience
- Add any general information it would benefit the employer to have, such as your willingness to relocate or your ability to work a flexible schedule
- Thank them for their time and consideration
- Finish with an exit greeting (e.g. "Sincerely"), a blank line for your signature, and your name typed