15:26 PM

Planning your job hunt? Here are 3 things to include in a cover letter

Written by: Cynthia Anaya

Many jobs and internships require a cover letter as part of the application process, but even if they don’t, including one can give you an edge over other applicants. For a student who doesn’t have any experience with applying for an internship or job, the thought of writing a cover letter can be overwhelming. Various questions can arise, like what should a cover letter include, and how long it should be. The following are three key components that every cover letter should include:

A Catchy, Effective Introduction

The first few words of the cover letter are critical because they should grab the audience’s attention and prompt them to want to continue listening or reading. Hiring managers might receive dozens of applications for a certain position, which means they’re reading – or skimming – through dozens of cover letters.

After a while, many of them may start to sound the same. That’s why career experts recommend starting out with a personal anecdote or something else that personalizes the letter and can’t be confused with the other letters. The anecdote should serve as a lead-in for, and be relevant to, the job or internship. The intro should also clearly state the position and your interest in it as an applicant.

Proof That You’re Qualified for the Position

A second element that you should include in the cover letter is a statement of a few sentences proving that you’re qualified for the position. Think of this part of the letter as a more detailed version of the bulleted “experience” section of the resume. Within a paragraph or two, list all of your skills and experience relevant to the position in sentence form. For example, if the role calls for beginner knowledge of CSS and JavaScript, and you just completed a course on both, mention the course and the skills you acquired.

It’s one thing to include this information in summary form as a bulleted list in a resume, but providing more details about your skills and experience is another. The detailed cover letter version gives the employer a clearer picture of who you are, what you’ve done, and how your experience aligns with the requirements of the position.

A Strong Closing Statement

The final key element of a cover letter is a strong culminating statement. This should consist of a few sentences and should summarize your qualifications and why you feel you’re the best fit for the role. You should also express your interest in meeting the hiring manager and being part of the team. If appropriate, you might also want to consider briefly circling back to your anecdote (if you included one).

To find resources and guidance on cover letter and resumes, as well as other helpful information as you begin your job hunt,  visit Career Services at www.uhcl.edu/career-services/