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How to write a good cover letter

Writing a cover letter can be a daunting part of applying for jobs. We’ve all struggled with trying to get the formatting perfect on the CV, but very strict guidelines tend to ease the stress. Cover letters require a whole new level of creativity. You have to convince the reader that you genuinely want the job and also that you are better and more suited to fill this role than everyone else applying for the position. Writing a cover letter does not have to be so daunting. After a bit of practice, you will soon become an expert. To help you through the process, we’ve broken it down into four simple steps for you to follow:

(1) Do Your Research First. Find out as much as possible about the company you wish to work in, and more specifically, the position you are applying for. The first place to go is the company’s website. This will give you a great deal of information that will help you get to know the company better and could even give you more reasons for applying. You should look at what the company has done recently by searching the name online in recent news and maybe even read their press releases. Doing this will give you a good picture of the direction in which the company is heading, and if you get an interview, these will be great sources of questions for you to ask at the end.

(2) Salutation: Dear Who? You should do your very best to try and find out who will be reading your application. “Dear Sir or Madam” is a perfectly acceptable salutation but it will not help you stand out. Nowadays, social media makes it very easy to work out who will be interviewing you. If you can use their name, they will immediately know that you have done your research and that you’re taking this job seriously.

(3) Structure. The structure can be very difficult to get right and there are many different ways you can go about this. Here’s how we would set it out:

a. Why you are interested in working for the company?

b. Why are you applying for the particular position or to work in that particular department?

c. What experience do you have that would make you suited to working for the company?

Loosely structuring your cover letter in a logical, ordered manner will give you the opportunity to say everything that your employer wants to hear.

(4) Spelling And Grammar. Check, double check and triple check everything. Making mistakes looks careless and lazy, two things you don’t want your potential employer to think about you. Once you’re certain, send it to a friend or family member to read through it again. A fresh pair of eyes can spot mistakes you’ve read over a million times and can also provide a new perspective on your cover letter.


Photo 1. by Alejandro Escamilla, CC0

Photos and blog by John Monahan

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!