Not all jobs require you to submit a cover letter, you certainly don't have to submit a cover letter if it's optional, but if it’s a job you feel strongly about, you should make sure to include one - when you do, it’s critical that you put in the effort to prepare one that speaks to the company’s mission, values, and how you are the best candidate for the role.
Cover letters can mean the difference between landing an interview and being passed on for the position. Yet, candidates are still submitting the same cover letters for several different positions. Mindlessly applying and recycling your material will not land you an interview - so go the extra mile with your cover letter!
A successful cover letter will tie your unique skills and interests with the specific role you’re applying to. It should NOT be a summary of the positions listed on your resume. Your cover letter should express why you’re deciding to apply for the specific company, role, and how you fit into the picture.
This is the cover letter I submitted in my Jopwell application:
Now let’s break it down:
Greeting Ditch the mailing address and formal “Dear Sir/Madam” greeting from your cover letter. No one is mailing cover letters anymore so adding this is irrelevant. Addressing the recruiter by Sir or Madam demonstrates you didn’t do your research to find who would review your application - plus, it’s dated language. Try hard to find the person that will be reviewing your application! I missed the mark on my Jopwell cover letter, but you should only address the whole team when you’ve exhausted your search and found nothing. At a bigger company this will be the “Campus Recruiting Team”.
Introduction Don’t be afraid to show some personality and emotion! Are you excited, honored, or thrilled for the opportunity? Use these two sentences to example the role you’re applying to, where you are now, and why you want to make the switch.
First Body Paragraph Explain your why. Why do you want to work at this company, how do you relate to their mission, and their team? This first body paragraph should be the place you remind the company that you have done your research and have a strong reason for wanting to apply for a role at their company. Share a personal experience or connection to the problem they are aiming to solve.
If you were referred to the position, I would include it here emphasizing why this specific opportunity stood out - simply stating a referral is not enough.
Second Body Paragraph Getting into the details. Why does this particular role interest you and how do your past experiences match the responsibilities? Remember - a cover letter is not another place to dump all your experiences. I would recommend selecting one or two strong experiences that speak to the requirements and responsibilities listed in the job description.
Conclusion Finish off strong. Remind them why you’re the best fit for the role - let your passion come through! Remove the generic, “I look forward to discussing…, I am available for an interview…, Thank you for your consideration” language! We all know what the next step is and you won’t need to take valuable space in your conclusion for this, save it for the sign off.
Editing is Key: There is no strong cover letter without strong copy-editing! Read over your cover letter three times (really) before sharing it with a friend for a second opinion. If your content is there but the delivery isn’t - your application may be passed over.
Keep it Short - your cover letter should be no more than one page in length - just like your resume