Four Tips for Writing a Compelling Cover Letter

by Valerie Gist Copper, Career Development Advisor

Writing a cover letter can be a daunting task even for the most experienced professional. When applying for an internship you may have the option to submit a cover letter.  Simply put, this is an opportunity to articulate your “why” and pitch your value to your potential employer. While a cover letter may not be required for each job you apply to, you should have one in your arsenal just in case. Please keep in mind most recruiters do not read cover letters due to the sheer volume of applicants. So, if you submit one it should be between half a page, and no longer than two paragraphs in the length of short sentences. The cover letter should address the following:

  1. Introduction of yourself and what attracted you to the company – Example: As a Sophomore at MIT majoring in Engineering, I am excited to apply for the Web Developer position. I have always been intrigued by IBM since it won Most Innovative by Tech World. 
  2. Why are you interested in the role? – Example: I’ve been programming websites using Java to create friendly experiences since I was in middle school. It has always been a passion of mine. 
  3. Highlight specific skills and experience that align with the role requirements – I am currently studying Java, Python, and JavaScript. My favorite part about web design is building solutions that meet the needs of users. In my spare time, I run free web development workshops for at-risk youth. I teach them the basics of HTML/CSS and JavaScript, also I serve as a mentor. 
  4. Keep it succinct – Competitive, compelling, and concise.

A great cover letter will allow you to amplify your candidacy and further communicate the interests in skills included in your resume. Additionally, this will serve as your elevator pitch when you are called in to interview. Armed with a well-written resume and a compelling cover letter, you are ready to begin the recruiting process!