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What should I include in a cover letter?


Jacque from Wright State University asked:

I really need help writing a cover letter. I understand that I should write a different cover letter for each individual potential job, but is there a general idea for cover letters I should follow?

Hi Jacque –

This is a really important question.  Most people overlook the importance of cover letters and, as a result, miss out on a great opportunity to market themselves to employers.

Following is my recommended formula/structure for building cover letters.

COVER LETTER STRUCTURE: Good cover letters are focused marketing letters that present what is relevant.

Use the following as a guide for writing cover letters that market what you offer in terms relevant to the hiring employer:

Opening Salutation

Part One:  First Paragraph – State your Case! (tell them why you are writing): State the purpose and nature of your inquiry.

Part Two: Body Paragraph(s) – Defend your Case! (tell them why they should care you are applying): –Tell them how what you offer/seek matches with what they offer/seek

Part Three: Last Paragraph – ◦Close your Case! (Set context for next steps and close): –Wrap it up/Summarize. –Suggest/hint toward next steps in the process

Closing Salutation

I also recommend you review my recent post-  How to write an effective cover letter and download our Cover Letter and Thank You Letter Guide.

Hope this helps,

PS – Be sure to PROOFREAD your cover letters.  Don’t let a typo be your downfall!


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