Cover Letter Best Practices

How to Write a Cover Letter

While many jobs no longer require cover letters (especially most jobs on WayUp), when a job does require one, your cover letter could be a big part of whether or not you get to the next round. If you haven’t written a cover letter before (or even if you have), you may be wondering whether writing one is really necessary. The answer is yes, if you do it effectively. Think of your cover letter as your edge. If you write it well, it will give potential employers an insight into your personality, something that’s hard to discover by just skimming your resume.

Here’s our simple formula to writing an amazing cover letter.

Don’t restate everything in your resume. Instead, tell your story.

Think of your resume and your cover letter as a package — they complement each other, but they’re not the same thing. While your resume covers your educational background and work experience, your cover letter tells a story about who you are and what you’d like to do with your career. Since recruiters look through hundreds (sometimes thousands) of resumes every day, a memorable cover letter is more likely to stand out. Give them something to remember by highlighting some of your unique qualities.

Keep it short and to the point.

Cover letters should be short, sweet and to the point. Keep in mind that the recruiter is likely reading dozens or hundreds of them, so make yours pop in a succinct way, and definitely don’t make it longer than one page.

Opening paragraph

In two-three sentences, explain who you are and what position or program you’re applying for.

Second paragraph

Then, in one-two sentences explain why you want the job. Be sure to mention your knowledge of the industry and your interest in the company. This is where research will come in handy.

Third paragraph

In three sentences, explain why you’re qualified for the job. Include relevant work experience (paid and unpaid internships or other jobs you’ve had) and mention classes you’ve taken that have guided you towards this field.

Closing sentence

Your final sentence is all about finishing strong. Tell the employer that you look forward to hearing from them and include your contact information (email and phone number).

Ask an advisor or professor to look it over.

Once you’ve finished writing your cover letter, make a few edits to ensure that there are no typos. Then ask an advisor or professor to look it over, focusing on whether there are any additional areas you can highlight or any unique skills you can mention. Make sure to incorporate their feedback before doing a final edit and pressing send.

Although writing a cover letter isn’t always necessary when applying for a job, if done effectively it can be a valuable add-on to your job application. By following the steps outlined here, you can write a great cover letter and land the internship or entry-level job you’ve been dreaming of.


Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as Tips to Make Your Resume Stand Out and find answers to common interview questions such as Are You Willing to Relocate?.