Writing a cover letter is one of those things that no one teaches you in school. but expects you to master when you step into the real world. Luckily, there are a ton of articles out there meant to help you draft one, including how to address the reader, how long it should be, et cetera, but as I’ve been learning how to masterfully write a cover letter, I learned that some of these are not nearly specific enough. This article is going to get real specific, because that’s how you learn. Once you already know how to generally write a cover letter, go through and make sure you’ve included these five things and you’re one step closer to the job of your dreams.

A direct mention of the job you are applying for

I wish I didn’t have to say this, but I do, so here it goes: you cannot send the same cover letter to every job you’re applying for. It’s disingenuous. They’ll see through you. They don’t have to be wildly different, but you should acknowledge, early on in your cover letter, the exact job you are applying for.

Example: My name is Jane Doe and I am applying for your opening as Deputy Communications Director at the White House.

If the job opening is more general, you can just reference the company. Show you care and are paying attention. Mentioning the position will also help them read the rest of your cover letter with the required attributes in mind.

Specific experiences tied to the field you are applying to

As I mentioned above, your cover letter should be specific to the job you’re applying for. That means you’ll probably only want to talk about a few of your internships, jobs, club leaderships, etc. Not every activity you’ve ever done applies to every job you’re interested in. Don’t bog the HR department down with all those extraneous details.

Example: for public relations jobs you can talk about your communications jobs, but maybe you don’t have to talk about the summer you organized the crafts tent at camp.

A hook for who you are and what you can do

The cover letter gives you an opportunity to sell yourself, so do just that. Sell yourself. Showcase why you are perfect for the job. Yes, you should mention your experiences so you can show why you are prepared to handle the job, but if you can come up with some pithy line that they’ll remember you’re golden.

Example: if you’re applying for a job in publishing, hook them by talking about the role books have played in your life or how you started a book YouTube channel that got a thousand subscribers. Find your best attributes related to the job. Promote them in the beginning and the end of the cover letter.

An acknowledgement of their time and humanity

Robots aren’t reading your cover letter. Your one-page summary of yourself will be read by another human being, likely by someone who has read a lot of other cover letters that day and has a lot of other things they’d rather be doing. Take a brief moment in your cover letter to acknowledge that person. They won’t forget it.

Example: towards the end of the cover letter, you can thank them for taking the time to get to know you and that you look forward to hearing back from them. It shows that you know they are a real person and that they have things going on, but you appreciate them taking the time.

Your name, repeated

This is simple, but it matters. Introduce yourself in the opening of your paragraph. Sign off with your name again. It’s entirely possible they will forget your name while reading the body paragraphs. What if you forget to include your name at all and make them put in the extra effort to find where the cover letter came from? Odds are, they won’t. Repeat your name and save your chances.

RELATED READ: 9 Mistakes Recent College Grads Make When Looking For A Job

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member