You have probably heard that you should write a different cover letter for each position you apply for. This is true, but that doesn’t mean that you must start from nothing each time. While we don’t recommend copy and paste from a previous letter, we do recommend that you follow a formula to make it a little easier to craft your letter.
Think about your cover letter in the same way you think about writing a persuasive essay. I had a teacher once say when writing an essay, you should; “tell me what you are going to tell me, tell me, then tell me what you told me.” This means that you should have an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. What you also may remember from your writing classes on persuasive essays is that you should have a thesis statement and then your body paragraphs should support that thesis. All these things are also true for your cover letter.
Intro Paragraph/Thesis Statement
In your intro you should say what you are applying to if this is a cover letter for a specific job or internship. You can also tell your audience one reason why you are interested in their organization. The intro paragraph should also include your thesis. Your thesis is the top 2-4 reasons (skills you have, experiences, or education) that make you a good fit for the position. So an example might be: “My skills in public speaking, my coursework in ancient roman architecture, and my experience working as a docent at the Museum or Modern History, make me a great fit for Museum Educator role.”
Now you must prove your thesis statement. You are not just restating everything on your resume, you are telling your audience how the elements you mentioned in your thesis (skills, experience, and education) make it possible for you to do the job or internship to which you are applying. You are making the connection between your experience and the needs of the job or internship. So in the thesis above, this person will want to show how they have public speaking skills and why that would be helpful to the Museum educator role, they’ll want to discuss what they learned from their coursework in ancient roman architecture and why that would be valuable to the museum, and they will want to show how some of the museum docent activities may be similar to the role on museum educator.
The conclusion to your cover letter is short. You may write a concluding sentence that sums up your thesis which you have now proven. You may add one more tidbit of information about yourself or why you are interested in the role. You finally want to thank the reader for their consideration and give them a call to action – tell them you hope to hear from them for an interview.
Check out our cover letter resources on our website or come to a cover letter workshop to find out more on how to format your letter. Once you draft a letter, sign up for a cover letter review on Handshake.