Cover Letters

Every time you submit your resumé, you’ll need to include a distinctive cover letter. It should be tailored to the organization you’re applying to and reflect what makes you unique. Some email applications require only a paragraph or two, but these paragraphs should still reflect the same general information you’d include in a formal cover letter.

Highlights

  • Format: Keep it simple

  • State why you’re writing

  • Outline how your qualifications meet the posted job requirements

Creating your cover letter

The cover letter provides an opportunity to introduce yourself and let a bit of your personality shine through. But you also need to be sure to include key information, such as your contact info and the name of the position you’re applying for. The cover letter is likely the first impression you’ll make on a prospective employer, so use it to demonstrate your ability to clearly present your thoughts in a written format, and ensure that your spelling and grammar are flawless.

Format

There are no hard and fast rules when writing a cover letter, but it’s generally a good idea to keep it simple. Employers see enough paperwork, so make sure your cover letter is short, sweet and easy to read! Consider the following points when preparing your letter:

  • Keep it to one page.

  • Begin the cover letter with your name and address.

  • Next, write the date.

  • Below the date, write the name, title, organization and address of the person to whom you’re writing.

  • Use a subject line rather than a greeting (e.g., “Regarding: Mechanical Engineering Position, #1308-7” is preferable to “Dear Mr. Jancuzi…”).

  • Close with “Sincerely” or “Regards,” and sign the letter. Indicate that you’ve enclosed your resumé by including “Encl: resumé.”

  • Use a font and style that match your resumé.

Content

One cover letter for all job applications simply isn’t good enough. You should tailor the letter to each job application to ensure you only include details that are specific to the position you’re applying for. The content should be concise and engaging. Focus on straightforward but interesting career highlights that will make the reader want to learn more in your resumé.

Following are a few guidelines to writing a strong cover letter:

  • Try to limit your letter to three paragraphs—an introduction, an elaboration and a conclusion.

  • In your opening paragraph, state why you’re writing to the prospective employer. Note the position title or job number you’re applying for, either in a subject line or in the first paragraph. Tip: You may want to state where you saw the job posting (e.g., your school’s website, The Toronto Star, the corporation’s website).

  • In the second paragraph, outline how your qualifications meet the posted job requirements. You can do this in sentences or point form. Once you’ve highlighted the qualifications requested in the job description, pick the top three and explain why you believe you can meet these qualifications better than anyone else. Tip: The top three qualifications usually include a mix of education, experience and personal characteristics.

  • In your closing paragraph, thank the reader for his or her attention, reiterate your interest in the position and provide your contact information.