Here at TFD, we’ve heard a thing or two about job-hunting — especially how frustrating the process can be. Plus, when you’re trying to figure out where to budget your energy when searching for jobs, there’s an endless amount of conflicting information available online. Some will say that the cover letter is dead, but for certain industries, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Trust us; a well-written, job-appropriate cover letter can still do wonders to set yourself apart. Below you’ll find one woman’s cover letter template that helped her land roles with companies like Marketplace and even more interviews with organizations such as Radiolab.
With internship-securing season in full force and summer creeping up, there’s no time like the present to brush up on your cover letter etiquette. Writing cover letters is my least-favorite part of a job application, but in certain industries, it’s definitely one of the most important components in catching a hiring manager’s eye and showing off your analytical and communication skills right away. (Getting that hiring manager’s name right is up there in importance, too!)
After attending many career center workshops during my undergraduate and graduate studies, and seeing the many amazing (and sometimes lackluster) resumes and cover letters that would cross my desk in my first job as an executive assistant, I’ve picked up a thing or two about how to write an engaging and effective cover letter. The advice below has scored me countless interviews and job offers, including three job offers within the first six months of my master’s degree, in completely different positions: an internship at Marketplace, an assistant editor job at an advertising post house, and a producer role at an agency that creates branded documentary-style videos.
This template has led to interviews at radio-stations, non-profits, unions, advertising agencies, travel agencies, and documentaries. It’s helped my friends get the attention of hiring managers in non-communication fields as well. I hope you give it a try and add your own spin!
Start with a catchy opening anecdote that shows you can tell a story and relates to a passion of yours that aligns with the job. Use the rest of this paragraph (no more than a few sentences) to show that you have done your research and understand the company, its values, and its mission, and that you share these values and goals. (Personalizing a cover letter to each job is absolutely key to being successful. If you can’t be bothered to understand a company’s mission, how can you even be sure you want to work there?) End your intro confidently with a “thesis” sentence that positions you as the right candidate for the role. It can be as literal as “this is why I am a great candidate for the [insert position name] at [insert company name].”
Body paragraph 1:
This is where you can start describing your most relevant experience, whether it is from past jobs or from your education. Give examples of skills as well as actual projects/tasks/responsibilities that speak directly to the responsibilities outlined in the job post, and clearly connect the two. For example, “My experience building relationships with community organizations as a member of student government is directly transferable to building grassroots support for [X political candidate].”
Body paragraph 2:
Here you can continue with the above, but this is where I tend to focus on hard or technical skills such as using Adobe Creative Suite products for layout or editing. Depending on what role you are applying for, you may want to focus on something like people skills, management skills, or another category that fits the position.
This is where you reiterate how your achievements and goals for your career line up with the goals of the company you are applying to, and how much you want to be a part of (and would add value to) their team. Then kindly thank them for their time and consideration, and say that you hope to be able to discuss your candidacy further in person.
Remember that a cover letter is only supposed to be a highlight of your very best and most applicable skills — not a duplicate of your resume. Be concise, creative, and share your authentic self, and you’ll be sure to find a position that’s the right fit.
Eva Voinigescu is a journalist and content producer living in Toronto. She recently left a cushy corporate job to go freelance and is loving it, even though the job-hunt thrill and hustle never stops. Find her at www.evavoinigescu.com.
Image via Unsplash