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Your cover letter is an initial introduction to your potential employer, not a restatement of your resume. It should entice the reader to jump into your resume with interest and enthusiasm.

Write your cover letter like any other business letter. Your address should be identical to your resume. Next, add the date and the employer’s name and address. Your letters should never be more than one page. If it is too long, the reader won’t finish it. You are probably repeating what is in your resume, so don’t.

This letter must grab your reader’s attention. Use high-quality paper and make certain the printer output is clear and crisp.

Include the potential employer’s name and make sure you double-check all spelling! Some job postings don’t include names, but it is possible for a clever job hunter to avoid “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir.” Make a phone call to the company. Let them know that you are preparing a resume and that the advertisement did not provide a name. Ask for it. It’s rare for a company to refuse this type of request.

Quickly explain what you are offering. A little bit of additional information can get your letter off to a strong start.

Here are some examples:

  • I came across an article about your company in our local paper. From research on your website and looking at the marketplace, I am certain of a couple of things. First, yours is the kind of company that I want to work for, and second, I have the skills you can use.
  • I am a motivated high school student looking for valuable experience during the summer break.
  • Staying current in our industry is tough because it changes so rapidly and many professionals find it hard to keep up. I am someone who studies those changes, and I hope you would like to meet so that we can talk about how I might help you to build for the future.
  • I read your advertisement in the Daily News on May 17 and, after researching your organization, I think that I have something to offer you.
  • Your May 17 advertisement caught my attention, and your company name caught my eye.

After your opener, give potential employers a reason to get curious about your resume. Bridge your opening paragraph with something like:

  • “If you still have a need in this area, my resume demonstrates my dedication and commitment to what I do. “

Then you can include one or two sentences that highlight a special contribution or achievement, such as:

  • “I have 15 years’ experience in the agriculture industry, built on a degree from City College. My background has enabled me to consistently identify and implement the right technology to increase the sustainability of farming in our region. “

You can present your letter in bullet form or paragraphs.
Follow up with an action statement. You want the reader to turn the page and scan your resume as they pick up the phone to call you and invite you to a meeting. For example:

  • I will be downtown on Monday and Tuesday next week and would be happy to meet with you to discuss the opportunity.
  • I would be very pleased to speak with you about this position. I have a portfolio that I can present to you at the meeting.

You can also safely add something like, “I am currently employed and would appreciate your consideration at maintaining the confidentiality of my application.”

Using the space in your guide, create a draft of a compelling cover letter. Have your target job in mind, and imagine the hiring manager who will read your letter. 


Before moving on to the next unit, think about where you want to send your letter. Then, it’s time to create your portfolio.