A strong cover letter demonstrates why you are the right fit for the specific opening and company you're applying for.  A cover letter doesn't repeat your résumé's content - it contextualizes why, specifically, you should be interviewed. A cover letter also serves as a writing sample - so be sure to put your best foot forward.   

A few cover letter best practices.   

  • Address your cover letter to a specific person (this will require some research and ideally a bit of networking). If you cannot find a specific contact, "Dear Hiring Manager" suffices.  

  • Enthusiasm Sells: Reference why you're interested in the organization and/or opportunity. 1-2 sentences here will suffice.  

  • Describe specific transferrable skills and experiences you've acquired that make you a strong fit in your body paragraph(s).   

  • Write clearly, concisely, and directly. Vague and superfluous wording only detract from your points and make your candidacy look weaker.  

  • Be aware that cover letters are more common in some industries than others. Job applications in the Education & Community Engagement; Visual & Performing Arts; Communication, Journalism, & Written Arts; and Government, Law, & International Affairs career communities are generally more likely to request a cover letter. On the other hand, job applications within the Business & Entrepreneurship and Technology and Data Sciences career communities rarely request cover letters.