How to write a cover letter

woman writing cover letterBy Evan Supple

So you’re about to apply for a job when you notice that, along with your resume, the company wants you to send a cover letter. What to do?  Of course you have lots of options: you can panic, you can decide to ignore the request, you can quickly sprawl “Here’s my resume!” across a blank sheet of paper, and call it a day.

But if you’re serious about landing an interview, you should spend a little time crafting a letter that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.  The goal of your cover letter is to make your resume stand out in a pile of applications. And although that’s a lofty goal, writing an effective cover letter doesn’t need to be a daunting task.

You can get started with this Write Your First Cover Letter video, and then follow the five tips below:

  • Get a sense of what a good cover letter looks like by checking out some examples like these Samples of the Best Cover Letters, from, or Cover Letter Samples from Pay attention to the style, tone, format, content and length of the letters.
  • Use CareerOneStop’s cover letter template to get started. This will help you make sure you don’t miss any important pieces.
  • Read the job posting, position description, and any other information you have about the hiring person’s specific needs ideas for the position. Then make sure you address those details in your letter.
  • Find the “About Us” section of the hiring company’s (or organization’s) website. Get a feel for how the company views themselves, and see if you can work those values or ideals into your letter. At the very least, make it obvious that you’re familiar with the company.
  • Use the information you’ve discovered and try to find a way to connect you and the company you’re writing to, whether it’s a past experience, a future goal or something about your character.
  • Proofread, then ask someone else to proofread, and then ask a third person. Nothing sinks a cover letter as fast as a bunch of typos.

Evan Supple is a content analyst for CareerOneStop. A recent Macalester College graduate, he hopes to advocate for workers with his writing and video projects. He lives in St. Paul and is content.

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