Writing an Effective Cover Letter

Your cover letter is your chance to speak directly to your potential employer and tell them why you want the job, so once again it’s important to personalize it.  Your cover letter shouldn’t just restate everything in your resume, but should instead show why you should get an interview for this particular job. Here’s your chance to give details about an accomplishment or project, speak to specific qualifications that the employer wants, and portray a bit of your personality. (It’s obviously not the place to gush about your hobbies or pets, but your tone can convey what type of colleague you’ll be).

According to Alison Green, you should:

  • Show enthusiasm for wanting to work at the company and explain specifically why you want to work there. (Green, 2013).
  • Mention what you offer the company. Why should they hire you? If there’s something that sets you apart that isn’t really shown on your resume, you should state it. (Green, 2013).
  • Explain any concerns that the employer might have, if relevant. If you don’t have 100% of the qualifications or have a non-traditional career path, you should acknowledge it and explain why you’re still a great candidate. For example, if you recently went back to school so that you could move to a new industry, you should show how your experience in your previous career is actually a benefit. (Green, 2013).


Harman’s Story

Harman now needs to write a cover letter for the co-op position in accounting. When he reads the job description, he realizes that the post says twice that all co-op students are expected to be professional and punctual, and that they must be eager to learn. The job posting also stresses that the successful candidate will have to use QuickBooks and Sage, and Harman got top marks on projects using these. More importantly, he was part of a team that won an accounting competition, which really sets him apart.

Here’s the cover letter he comes up with:

Dear Mr. Sikula,

Thank you for considering me for a co-op internship at A+ Accounting. I was excited when I saw this job listed because I admire how your organization provides low-cost services to non-profit organizations, and how you match employee charitable donations.

I’m in my fourth year of the accounting program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and I have a 3.87 GPA. (My GPA for accounting courses alone is 4.0). I was recently part of a four-person student team that won the ACHIEVE 2019 competition. To win, we had to work collaboratively and conduct extensive analysis under pressure. I’ve also completed numerous projects that required me to use Sage and QuickBooks. I love watching Youtube tutorials to figure out how do advanced tasks in Sage.

In the workplace, I’m known for my professionalism and reliability. I pride myself on having never been late to a shift. My perfect attendance and ability to make customers feel welcome earned me an Employee of the Month award at Local Hardware Store. I also took initiative to get certified in industrial first aid and forklift operation, which led to me becoming the youngest person ever to get promoted to Lead Hand at Random Warehouse.

I think that I would be a good fit for your team, and I would appreciate the chance to discuss my qualifications further in an interview. Please contact me at 778-111-2222 or harman.d@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Thank you for your consideration.

Here, Harman begins by specifically saying why he wants to work at this accounting firm. It’s clear that he’s done his research. Because he’s a student with no paid accounting work, he has realized that his academic experience is most persuasive. Since Harman knows that the company is looking for someone who is eager to learn, he includes the line about how he seeks out Youtube videos to supplement his knowledge. He also uses his warehouse and hardware store jobs to demonstrate his reliability and professionalism.

Harman also creates a tone that’s enthusiastic but professional. If he’d said “I would be thrilled and honoured and delighted to work at your company,” his tone would have been a little over-the-top. His cover letter also is concise. He knows that when he gets to an interview, he’ll be able to discuss his qualifications further.

In the end, Harman gets the interview….and the job.


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Business Writing For Everyone Copyright © 2021 by Arley Cruthers is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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