The Writing Center

Writing Cover Letters

Step One: Answer the following questions. These answers will form the main content of your letter. For now, don’t worry about punctuation or style. Just write honestly!

1. Why are you applying for this job?

2. What do you know about the company? Comb through their mission statement and latest projects!

3. Go through the ad and list the skills and experience required on the left side of this chart and your corresponding experiences, skills, or education on the right side, or otherwise address the requirement.

4. Why would you be good at this job? Why should they hire you?

5. Think about a particular moment or project that sticks out from one of your previous experiences. Why is this moment important to you? What did you learn? Why should the company know about this particular experience?

Step Two: With these answers in mind, formulate a first draft of your letter.

There are two types of cover letters:

  • A letter of inquiry is used to contact an employer when no known opening exists. The primary job of this kind of letter is to express interest in the company and request an opportunity to interview for a position appropriate for your interests and/or skills.

  • A letter of application is used to express interest in a particular position. This kind of letter does the job of explaining what makes you a good candidate for that particular job and requests an interview for that job.

Remember, it’s okay if it’s bad or if it doesn’t make sense. First drafts are supposed to be the “down draft,” in which you just get everything “down” on paper.

Here’s an example of a strong cover letter:

Example Cover Letter


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