Cover Letter Dos & Don'ts

Formatting

Do: Write the name of the organization in the same few spots for each cover letter

​ONLY put the organization's name in the following places:

Header

1st line - 1st paragraph

Why organization sentence

That's it

Do NOT: Bury the organization's name throughout the cover letter

​One of the worst mistakes is writing the wrong organization name in a cover letter. This usually happens because a student copies an old cover letter and updates it for a new job application. The more times an organization's name is buried in a cover letter, the easier it is to forget to change it for a new version.

Do: Include the job requisition number if applying to a very large company

I am writing to apply for the Marketing Assistant role (#1298769) on the Google Enterprise team.

Do NOT: Worry if there is no requisition number

I am writing to apply for the Marketing Assistant role on the Google Enterprise team.

Do: Launch into what you are applying to

I am excited to apply to your marketing internship.

Do NOT: Re-introduce yourself

My name is Nadine Hansan, and I am applying to your marketing internship.

Why the Role

Do: Be specific in your interests and their role

​My interests lie in creativity and engaging with people: posting on social media, collaborating on projects, giving presentations, and even keeping up with emails. It would be exciting to be able to perform these types of tasks as a Marketing and Social Media Intern this summer.

Do NOT: Be generic

​I really like communicating, which is why I'd like your internship.

1st Paragraph - 1st Sentence

Do: Include how you heard about the role

I am excited to apply to the Human Resources Internship that I learned about from the Eastside College Prep Alumni Team.

Or

I am excited to apply for the Project Internship at Year Up that I learned about through my conversations with Nadine Hansan, a current Project Manager on the Admissions team.

Or

I am writing to apply for the Clinical Internship which was posted on the UC Riverside Career Center’s job board.

Do NOT: Include this information if there's not a direct connection

We add contacts to this section because referrals or references can help you stand out. However, if that friend, mentor, Eastside Coach, etc., isn’t affiliated with the company, you don’t need to list them.

 

If you found it on a standard job board like Indeed or LinkedIn, you also don’t need to list it.

Do: Focus on how you became interested in the role (if possible)

​My favorite project during my internship last summer at Feel Good non-profit included researching information about the top donors to the non profit and sitting in on meetings with potential new donors. That led me to be interested in a career in development and why I am especially excited about applying to your Development Associate internship.

Do NOT: Focus on what they can do for you

 

​I am interested in your Development Associate internship because it will allow me to grow my writing skills and strengthen my ability to communicate.

Why the Industry/Sector

Do: Be specific about what you like about their industry

​I became interested in the sports nutrition industry while I was dabbling in bodybuilding in college. I poured myself into learning about different diets and supplements in order to optimize nutrition and fitness. I would be energized to work at a company that shares this passion in their mission and their products.

Do NOT: Be vague

 

Healthy eating is something that all athletes should be aware about because it can enhance their performance.

Do: Highlight where you've been involved in their industry in the past

​When I was in high school, I volunteered for two years at a non-profit that planted and cared for trees at local schools and parks. That experience sparked my interest in the environment and led me to write a 24 page research paper on the impact of factory farming on water resources in rural US communities. I would be thrilled to write for an organization whose mission focuses on improving environmental policies.

Do NOT: Be generic

 

Now more than ever, it is important to focus on the environment.

Why the Organization

Do: Focus on why you are a good match

​Your organization has provided thousands of opportunities for children in the Bay Area to access a high quality education. As someone who grew up in the Bay Area, who is the first in my family to go to college, and is someone who benefitted from programs such as yours, I would be honored to work for your organization this summer.

Do NOT: Focus on what they are going to do for you

I am interested in working at your organization because it will give me the experience I need to launch my career into the non-profit education industry. I also am excited to participate in your training programs so I can develop more of my leadership skills.

Why You

Do: Show them that you have the skill

​In my internship last summer I was in constant communication with five team members using email, Slack and in-person meetings to update them on my daily tasks.

Do NOT: Tell them you have the skill

In my internship last summer, I developed my communication and project management skills.

Do: Summarize where you've used the skills or offer additional information not on the resume

​I developed my analytical skills last summer while creating weekly forecasts in Excel for the sales team and also while creating a regression analysis in my statistics class.

Do NOT: Cut and paste a specific example from your resume

Last summer, I analyzed sales data and created a forecast saving the sales team 10 hours of work each week.