How to Make a Cover Letter by Allison Fraiberg, Ph.D.

Job Search Cover Letter Tips

Here are some tips for crafting vibrant cover letters that will captivate hiring managers during your job search.

Tailor your letter to the job

Tailor each letter to the position and organization. Greet the hiring manager specifically. At most 250-400 (3-4 paragraphs). Use a clear font and 1″ margins. Edit and proofread obsessively.

Stay employer-focused 

Show that you understand the company’s mission and purpose. What drives the company? Why is that significant? What are the pain points? What are the company’s needs?

Start to build a relationship

Tell a compelling (very short) story to show how you are positioned well to help an organization advance its goals. Synthesize information by explaining how aspects of the organization’s goals, strategy, and pain points are connected. Relate your achievements and skills to those points of connection.

Go beyond your resume

Highlight your best qualifications for this job and explain how you would apply your knowledge and past experience to it. Clarify how your experience can advance the organization’s strategy or solve the organization’s problem. Quantify your achievements and explain how those results can transfer to this organization. What approach did you take to tackling one of the responsibilities you’ve mentioned on your resume? What about your personality, passion, or work ethic made you especially good at getting the job done?

Review language, jargon, and tone

Use the language of the job description. Write using active verbs and concrete nouns. Eliminate “filler”. Avoid clichés and business-speak. Be clear and precise. Don’t apologize for lack of experience. Ensure there are no grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors.

End with a strength

What one strength or quality do you want to be remembered for in the application? Connect it to a need of the organization. What specific organization goal are you prepared to contribute to immediately?

Visit the Writing Lounge for tips, techniques, and strategies for your communication projects at redlands.edu/writinglounge.