How to Write a Cover Letter
Why write a cover letter?
- To introduce yourself to your prospective employer
- To give the facts in your resume background and colour highlighting their relevance to your application
- To give an excellent example of your writing skills and attention to detail
- To give the organisation a sense of your passion, ambition and commitment to their vision
General tips for writing a good cover letter:
- Research the history, structure and culture of the organisation to which you are applying
- Identify the key skills required for the position
- Identify the specific skills you have that would make you a good choice for the position
- Tailor each cover letter to the specific organisation to which you are applying
- Do not exceed one page
- Write the letter in your own voice
- Make sure you check the spelling, punctuation and grammar carefully before you submit
The structure of a good cover letter:
- The header should include your name, address and contact details
- Keep this tidy and small
- Address the letter to a specific person and not to the organisation as a whole
- Address the person formally by their title and surname
- Remember to carefully check the name of the person to whom you are writing as a misspelled name is very off-putting
- Name the specific position for which you are applying and mention where you heard about the opportunity
- Tell them why you are interested in this specific position with this specific organisation
- Tell them why you are a good fit for the position using your list of skills that are suited to the position
- Show how your experience and academic background make you well-suited for the role
- Write about specific experiences you have had that have given you the skills
- Repeat your interest in the position and the organisation
- Mention your dates of availability
- Give contact details to arrange a phone or Skype interview
- Signing off
- Close expectantly but without demanding
Submitting your cover letter:
- If submitting to ACN, send it as a word document attached to an email. This means your ACN associate can easily edit it and give feedback. It will be sealed in PDF format before being sent on to partner organisations.
- If you are submitting a cover letter directly to an organisation, always submit it in PDF format. This means others cannot edit your work.
Example Cover Letter (courtesy of the Brown Career Development Center):
Student Name email@example.com
Box 1234 AN Other University, Cityname, PT 12345 (555) 555-5555
September 1, 2006
Ms. Jane Doe,
555 Community Center Way New York,
Dear Ms. Doe,
I am writing to apply to the Group Leader position at Community Center which I learned about through idealist.org; this site has been a great resource for me, because I am looking for a career where I can channel my energy into community building and social change. Community Center embodies much of what I am hoping to accomplish, as I am inspired by youth who, because of less access and fewer resources, have often had to find outlets for their struggles.
As an Ethnic Studies concentrator at Brown University, I studied the often unspoken histories of immigrants in America, and learned how to bridge the gap between marginalized communities and academia. I have been heavily involved with Brown’s Third World Center in various roles. Counseling minority students about academic and personal issues and designing/coordinating programs (such as Multiracial Heritage Week and Puerto Rican Cultural Week) contributed to my sense of how to create safe spaces that considered the holistic well-being of the people that came in and out. I have spent years cultivating skills in community organizing, and intertwined with that goal, inspiring change and self-reflection through the arts.
My familiarity with Manhattan, through working at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas in Chinatown (MOCA) would be helpful to Community Center. At MOCA, the research I undertook enabled me to view different families in this area in a cultural, social and historical context. I also worked with summer camp and day care groups on-site at MOCA. I feel connected to the people who live in this area and attribute much of this to being able to communicate in both Spanish and Chinese.
I am interested in discussing the position of Group Leader or other possibilities within Community Center. I can best be reached at my cell phone, (555) 555-5555. I am available to come to New York for interviews at a time convenient for you. I look forward to hearing from you.
|Example Cover Letter|