Create your cover letter

A cover letter is an opportunity to expand on your resume and explain why you are the right fit for the job. However, not all jobs require a cover letter to apply—so always check the job posting before you send one to ensure the employer requested it. When in doubt, include one! Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get started.

Address your letter to the hiring manager or program leader

Instead of just saying, “To whom it may concern,” look at the job posting or the company’s website to find the hiring manager’s name to include in your letter.

Use an outline

Treat your cover letter like a short essay. Here’s a basic outline for a simple three-paragraph letter:

  1. Introduce yourself and why you are interested in the position.
  2. Include a brief paragraph explaining how you meet the specific experience and/or education requirements.
  3. Finish with a conclusion describing how your unique combination of education, experience and skills make you the best person for the position.

Watch the length

You want your letter to be direct and concise. Aim to have your cover letter no more than one page. 

Share concrete examples

Avoid repeating your resume, rather use it to highlight a few key experiences that relate to the job you are applying for. Show your future employer why you are the right fit.

Include keywords

Highlight how you meet the competencies detailed in the posting, using keywords or skills listed in the job posting. Read Skills for the Future Workforce to learn more about the type of skills employers are looking for.

Use active voice and avoid wordiness

Use active language and avoid wordiness—it will improve your writing and save space for the important details. Example of active versus passive language:

  • Active voice: “I led a team of 20 employees at X company.”
  • Passive voice: “I had once managed 20 employees as the leader of a team for X company.”

Additional resources

  • The University of British Columbia provides advice and examples of resumes and cover letters for students entering the workforce for the first time.
  • Want to learn more about what makes a winning resume? Take a look at the LinkedIn Cover Letter Feed.

A strong cover letter is key to a successful job search. Watch the video: Building a Resume and Cover Letter.

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