Cover Letter Samples for Students
Last updated August 17, 2023
Whether you’re applying for your first or tenth job, writing a cover letter can feel overwhelming. Where do you start? How much detail should you put in? Should you have totally different information than on your resume? It can be tricky to know what to include, how to structure it, and what will make you stand out from other applicants. However, we are here to share some key ways to set yourself up for success and give you some examples to make the whole process smoother!
Use a template
To make the job application process go a little smoother, it’s important to have a baseline cover letter that you can customize for each job you apply for. That’s why we created a free cover letter template to help you get started! Just click “Make a copy” to begin.
Note: You must have a Gmail account to make a copy.
Keywords, usually found in a job description, are specific words or phrases that are relevant to the job you're applying for. Using the exact (or similar) keywords found on the job description on 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. Taking the time to do this will show employers that you’ve taken the time to thoroughly read and understand the job description, which can help you stand out from other applicants!
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 non-profit 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 non-profit, 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 in 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 or initiatives 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."
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