Cover Letters and Emails

Internship and Job Resources


A cover letter is a simple, concise and formal letter separately attached or within your email to accompany your CV when applying for a job. It provides an opportunity to introduce yourself in the context of the role you are applying for by building on essential information from your CV relating to the job opening you are seeking. The cover letter is a tool to help introduce yourself in a personal way and make a good impression during a job application.

Here are the things that will make your cover letter stand out:

  • Do a thorough research

You must research the company you are applying to before you draft a cover letter. Research helps you get a sense of the company’s culture. Also, you will be able to compare your skills with the requirements for the position.

Researching the company will help dictate the tone you want to use, which may differ greatly, from company to company and industry to industry. For example, the tone of your letter for a legal consulting firm will likely differ from a tech startup.

  • Tell a compelling story

Everyone loves a good story, and recruiters and hiring managers are no exception. Telling compelling stories from your career will make your cover letter unique and memorable for whoever reads it. The anecdotes in your story should serve multiple purposes in accomplishing a lot at once. It should highlight your top hard skills, competencies and specific experiences you want to share. Above all, it should highlight how those skills and experiences have been used.

  • Show how you can solve specific problems

Don’t just mention that you have amazing problem-solving skills. Explain the details of a particular problem you were key in solving and how exactly you employed your skills to solve it. Better yet, if you know the company has a specific problem you could help solve, outline how you can help solve it.

  • Be Honest

Lying on your cover letter is not in your best interest. Implying or stating that you have a skill that you don’t will backfire, so, don’t lie about your competence.

  • End with a call to action

End your letter with a reason for them to contact you. But don’t add remarks like, “I’ll call to schedule an interview.” This doesn’t make you a go-getter, it crosses a boundary. Instead, let the call to action be polite and open-ended, suggesting that you are excited to offer more information and that you’re looking forward to talking with them. 

  • Give your cover letter a unique visual format

A unique visual format for your cover letter can help you stand out from other candidates in a positive way. Just be sure that the unique format you use is appropriate for the company you’re applying to and its industry.  

  • Proofread your cover letter

Always proofread your cover letter for errors and have friends and family read through the cover letter.

When a cover letter is used
A popular question in the mind of many applicants is whether they are to write a cover letter or not. The answer to this question can sometimes be tricky, some job listing requests cover letters while some don’t. One thing to keep in mind is that you should add a cover letter when applying if the job opening that requires one. Even if the job description says “cover letter optional”, it is still advisable to write a great cover letter and attach it to your cv or resume.

Here are a few times you should use a cover letter while applying for a job:

  1. The job description requests or requires a cover letter even if it’s optional.
  2. Someone at the company said you could include their referral on your cover letter.
  3. The job demands writing and communication skills – this will give you a chance to show your skills.

Why should you add a cover letter?
Always keep in mind that competition is fierce for the best positions, so, writing and attaching a great cover letter to your application gives you an opportunity to impress the hiring team. If you’re serious about landing a particular job, cover letters are crucial. Your chances of getting a response from that job increase if you put some consideration into writing and submitting a cover letter.

Here is a list of questions to assess the readiness of your cover letter: 

  1. Does your cover letter have a strong opening paragraph, communicating your job target and key strengths within the first few lines of the text?
  2. Does your cover letter conform to a standard business letter format? 
  3. Is your cover letter addressed to a specific individual, if the name is available?
  4. Are your accomplishments highlighted?
  5. Is the content engaging and relevant to the job description?
  6. Is the cover letter succinct, containing just enough information to entice the reader to review your resume?
  7. Does your cover letter sound genuine? Does it reflect your personality and make you seem likeable and approachable?
  8. Did you proofread your cover letter to ensure it is grammatically correct, concise and clear?
  9. Do the writing style and design coordinate with the resume, such as by using the same font and layout style?
  10. Is it contained in one page (graduates) or a maximum of two pages (experienced professionals)?
  11. Did you provide an easy way for employers to contact you, such as a direct phone line and email address?
  12. Does your cover letter end with a call to action, confidently requesting an interview?

Here are other resources to read to help with your cover letter.

Other Internship & Job Resources