How to write a cover letter

A cover letter is a single-page letter that should be part of any job application.

Your cover letter needs to: 

  • Introduce you
  • Mention the job (or kind of job) you're applying for (or looking for) 
  • Match your skills and experiences with the skills and experiences required by the job 
  • Encourage the reader to read your resume 
  • Finish with a call to action (e.g., requesting an interview or asking to meet)

Here are three simple ways to make your cover letter as specific as possible:

1. Find out who to address it to

Avoid addressing your letter "To Whom It May Concern" if you can. Finding out who to address your application to takes a little bit of effort, but it's worth it.

If you found the job in an ad, the ad will probably name a person to send the application to. If not, call the employer or recruitment agency (don't email them) and ask who to send the application to.

When addressing a letter, don't use the person's first name. Use either "Mr." or "Ms.".

2. Find out more about the job

When finding out who to address your application to, you should also try to speak to that person so you can ask questions that will help you tailor your cover letter (and resume).

Questions you might consider asking include: 

  • What can you tell me about the job?
  • What can you tell me about the ideal candidate for the job?
  • Is there a position description I can look at? (only ask this if the job ad didn't mention a position description)

The answers to these questions will give you an idea of what you should mention in your cover letter.

3. Find out more about the company

Finding out more about a company is also a good way to work out how to tailor your cover letter. Here's some tips: 

  • If you know the name of the company, look for information online
  • If they have their own website, check it out

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