Career Advancement Blog

Writing a Successful Cover Letter

The following blog post was written by Roslyn Demerchant, a Mentorship Officer with the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement.

Cover letters are something that a lot of us struggle with. We wonder if we need to submit them with every application, how to tailor them, and if they will even be read. Cover letters are an essential component to any job application and need to be carefully crafted. It is important to tailor cover letters to jobs you are applying to, but it is even more important to have content that is more interesting or relevant than all the other ones submitted. Three types of cover letters that I (or clients) have had success with are:

A well-researched cover letter 

Your resume and cover letter are tools used to demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the role. However, a good cover letter can also show that you have thoroughly researched the company you are applying to. Spend the first half (or one to two paragraphs) talking about the achievements of the organization and why it would be a great place to work before you write about how your qualifications are a great match to the company and the job. 

A cover letter where you show that you have all of the job qualifications…and more

In this version, you don’t leave any doubt that you can and have performed all of the “must haves” listed in the job description. First, cut and paste the “must haves” into a table format or put them into a bulleted list in the body of your cover letter. Then, clearly and succinctly demonstrate your experience in each area.

The personality plus cover letter

Add a touch of your personality, keeping in mind that this version can be risky. It is important to know your audience. If you are applying to a small team or company, this version may set you apart from other applicants. A conversational tone can be more potent than formal business writing in the right circumstances. In this version, you can tell a personal story about why you are passionate about your field of work and why this role would be a dream job for you – but keep it short.  

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