Monday, September 10, 2018

A College Student's Career Guide:
How to Write a Cover Letter

Cover letters give you a chance to add some personality to your application. Although cover letters aren't necessary for all applications, experts say you should write a personalized cover letter for each position you apply for. Not writing a cover letter is seen as lazy and it's just not something that you do. It's like the equivalent of having spelling and grammar mistakes in your resume!

According to a LinkedIn article, 60% of hiring managers don't read your cover letters, but, half of those hiring managers still think cover letters are necessary. In other words, even though they might not read your cover letter, they want to see that you put in the effort. So, yes, cover letters are necessary and to help you get started here's A College Student's Career Guide: How to Write a Cover Letter.


The header contains your name and your contact info. For this part, you can use your resume header to save yourself some extra time and typing. Underneath it should include the date at which you're writing the cover letter. Next, put the company name that you're applying for's name and address.

Your Name
Your Address
Your City and State
Your Phone Number
Your Email


Company name
Company Address
Company City and State


For this part, you just need to put "Dear [Hiring Manager's Name]".

Simple enough, right? But, how do you find the hiring manager's name? You can use Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook. According to, some other tactics you can use are:

  • Calling the receptionist of the company.
  • Ask to be redirected to the HR department.
  • Find a listing of senior management.
  • Networking with people that you know.

Those tactics don't always necessarily get you the hiring manager's name, but you'll definitely get a name from someone in HR. If you can't get a name at all, you can write "Dear Hiring Manager".

First Paragraph

Write why you're writing, who you are, and how you heard about the job position (this only applies if you heard it from someone in the company). The last sentence is what you hope to get out of the internship or job.

Pro-tip: Research the company so you can weave it into your cover letter. It shows you cared enough to do the research while writing it.

"I am thrilled to be writing to apply for your summer internship at Company 1. I am currently a junior at the University pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. I was recommended for this position by Jane Smith in your financial department. Through an internship at your company, I hope to gain experience in the environmental science field and learn how biology can create wastewater treatment solutions, such as the [product]."

Second Paragraph

Do not just recite what's on your resume. Highlight your achievements and any soft or technical skills that you may have that is relevant to this job.

"Through my Biology degree program, I can confidently say that I gained several technical skills that you may find valuable. For example, I have acquired direct hands-on experience with several biological lab techniques, such as cell culture, light microscopy, spectrophotometry, pipetting, and solution preparation. To further expand my skill set, I participated in a two-week workshop at a local community college, where I learned ELISA, Western blotting, and SDS/PAGE. Furthermore, I have ample experience with Microsoft Office, particularly Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, as these tools are used to analyze, interpret, and present data."

Third Paragraph

This paragraph is optional. It can be either a continuation of skills or how you would fit into this company. For this cover letter, let's say the job description specified that they wanted an organized person, a good communicator, and a team player. In this case, I would mention some more skills in this portion of the letter.

Pro-tip: When listing soft skills, don't just say generic statements like, "I am an excellent communicator." Show evidence how you've used them before.

"Not only have I gained technical skills, but I also acquired many transferable skills that are useful in any professional setting. To exemplify, I have developed many effective organization tactics. This includes keeping notes and using an agenda, which allows me to prioritize and manage multiple tasks and meet deadlines. When working in a team, communication is one of the key elements in executing a group task successfully and efficiently. I have gained excellent communication skills from working with diverse personalities in a laboratory and retail setting. I have further improved my oral communication attributes by enrolling in an oral communications class and by participating in an organization called Campus Advocates for Prevention Education, in which table presentations are a large part of my responsibilities as a member. I also have gained written communication skills from writing classes and keeping a laboratory notebook for my organic chemistry and principles of biology labs."


Say your goodbyes and mention how you are looking forward to hearing back from them. Leave your contact info and thank them for their time.

"By now, I hope you deem me as qualified for the summer intern position. I am looking forward to hearing back from you and further discussing my qualifications and your needs. You can contact me at 123-456-7890 or via e-mail at Thank you for your time and consideration."


The valediction is the fancy way of referencing to your sign off. Examples of valedictions are:
  • Sincerely
  • Best Regards
  • Kind Regards
  • Best
  • Respectfully
  • Thank you
Underneath the valediction should be either:

1. A space for your signature and your typed name underneath
2. A typed script version of your name on one line and your typed name in a readable font underneath

The cover letter examples below will show both cases.

My Final Pro-tips:

1. Keep your cover letter one page.
2. Margins should stay 1" on all sides.
3. Convert your cover letter to PDF.
4. Have someone else check it after you've edited and revised it yourself.
5. If it's a similar position, you can use the same cover letter. But, be sure to change the company's name and any research you've found about the company.

For more pro-tips, check out this article from

Cover Letter Samples


For more cover letters with a little more personality, take a look at this post from

If you have any more pro-tips, share it in the comments below! If you thought this post was helpful, share it with your friend(s) on Pinterest, Twitter, and/or Facebook!

Career advice for college students that includes cover letter examples, cover letter tips, cover letter designs, cover letter templates.

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