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Key Tips for a Great Cover Letter

Last updated March 5, 2024

Whether you’re applying for your first or tenth job, writing a good cover letter can set you apart from other applicants. We're here to share some key tips to set yourself up for success when writing a cover letter and to give you some examples to make the writing process smoother!

A person sits at a desk and types on a Mac laptop - Cover Letter Samples for Students

Use a template

To make the writing process a bit easier and faster, it can be helpful to have a baseline cover letter template that you tailor to each job you apply for. Check out our free cover letter templates to help you get started! 

Note: You must have a Gmail account to make a copy of each template.

Use keywords

Keywords are specific words or phrases in a job description that employers use to identify which candidate is the best fit for the job. Using the exact or similar keywords found on the job description in your cover letter can help employers identify that you have the skills and experience they're looking for. For example, if you're applying for a job as a cashier, you may include keywords like "customer service," "cash handling," and "POS (point-of-sale) systems" on your cover letter. You can then highlight your experience with these tasks, making it clear that you're a strong candidate for the job. 

Make it personal

Another important element of a successful cover letter is personalization or customization. This means tailoring your letter to the specific company and job you're applying for. It's important to show the employer that you're genuinely interested in the position, and that you've taken the time to learn about the company and its values. To personalize your cover letter, start by researching the company. Look at their website, social media accounts, and any news articles or press releases about them. Pay attention to their mission statement, core values, and any recent accomplishments or initiatives. This will give you a better understanding of what they're looking for in an employee, and it will help you tailor your cover letter to their wants and needs.

For example, if you're applying for a job at a nonprofit organization that focuses on environmental sustainability, you may highlight your passion for environmental issues and your commitment to reducing waste and conserving resources. You could also mention any volunteer work or projects you've been involved in that relate to environmental sustainability. This will show the employer that you're not just applying for any job, but that you're specifically interested in working for their organization because you share their values.

Examples of key skills and competencies

When writing a cover letter, it's essential to highlight the relevant skills, experience, and personal qualities that make you the best candidate for the job. There are some key skills, or competencies, that many employers are looking for and will highlight in their job postings. Having some language and examples ready for them will make writing your cover letter a breeze! Here are a few common qualities and traits that employers look for that you can highlight in your cover letter:


Many employers value candidates who demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility. In your cover letter, you can highlight your ability to take ownership of tasks and work independently. For example, you might write: "As the captain of my school's debate team, I was responsible for organizing practices, coordinating tournaments, and leading team meetings. This experience taught me how to manage my time effectively and work under pressure."


Employers also appreciate candidates who can adapt to new situations and learn quickly. In your cover letter, you can showcase your ability to think on your feet and take on new challenges. For example, you might write: "During my summer internship at a local nonprofit, I was asked to take on a variety of tasks, including event planning, social media management, and donor outreach. I quickly learned how to balance multiple responsibilities and adapt to the changing needs of the organization."

Strong work ethic

Employers want to hire candidates who are committed to working hard and delivering results. In your cover letter, you can highlight your work ethic by describing your previous work experience or academic achievements. For example, you might write: "During my part-time job at McDonalds, I consistently received positive feedback from customers and my supervisors for my attention to detail and strong work ethic. I take pride in my ability to work efficiently and provide excellent customer service."


Collaboration is a crucial aspect of many jobs, and employers want to hire candidates who can work well with others. In your cover letter, you can highlight your experience working on teams and your ability to communicate effectively. For example, you might write: "As a member of my school's robotics club, I worked with a team of students to design and build a robot that won first place in a regional competition. This experience taught me the importance of effective communication, teamwork, and problem-solving."


Employers appreciate candidates who take the initiative to go above and beyond their job duties. In your cover letter, you can showcase your initiative by describing projects you've undertaken in the past. For example, you might write: "Last summer, I organized a community service project in my neighborhood to help elderly residents with yard work and home repairs. This initiative not only helped those in need but also taught me valuable leadership and project management skills."

We’re always here to support you in your job search process! Text #Jobs to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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