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Updated: May 31, 2021 Work for ME 2021 — How To

How to write a cover letter that gets attention

A cover letter sounds so 1990s, but it is still essential to personalizing your resume for a job search. Follow these tips and you’ll propel your resume to the top of your next employer’s pile of top candidates. With a great interview and a hand-written thank you note after the interview, you will surely seal the deal.

Courtesy photo
Nancy Marshall

Start with a header that includes the date and your contact information, including street address, phone number and email.

Address the email to the hiring manager or human resources manager, but use “Dear [first name here],” when possible.

On that note, go the extra mile to find the name of the person you’re addressing. That should be part of your background research. A person’s own name is the sweetest sound in the world so you want to use it if you can find out what it is.

It’s OK to use their first name. You may have been taught that you need to address them as Mr. or Mrs., but you are proposing working in an organization where you would be a professional peer so in my opinion using their first name is best.

Sample opening paragraph

This is where you show that you have thoroughly researched the company or organization and you can show that you would be a good fit for their culture. You want to show how your education and previous experience makes you ideally suited for the position. Don’t be afraid to show your personality. If you are a go-getter, then say so. If you are an intellectual, then tell them that. Something like this:

In my research about your company, I learned that I would be a perfect fit because I would complement the skills of your current employee team. Since I worked as the program director at a summer camp and I hold a degree in psychology, my experiences would round out your already amazing team of health care and fitness professionals.

If it’s a creative company, show your creativity. Make sure you use language that conveys your unique personality and skill set.

Middle paragraph

Your middle paragraph should go on to talk about your vision for the future. Be sincere and enthusiastic. Something like this:

If I were part of your team at [company name], I would bring my own unique brand of energy and enthusiasm to every aspect of the position. It would give me great satisfaction so be part of a team that works together to create [fill in what you would be creating]. Seeing the process through from concept to delivery would be so fulfilling.

Closing paragraph

In this paragraph you want to offer yourself up for any further interviews, testing or other aspects of this hiring process. Here’s an example:

I understand that you have many applicants for this position however I want to assure you that I am extremely interested and if I were offered the job, I would be able to start immediately. I am available for any further interviews, employment testing, or recommended training. Thank you for your time and I am eager to learn more about the position and your company.

Letter ending and signature

End your letter by saying “Sincerely,” with a comma and type your name three spaces below those two words. Then hand sign your name in the middle.

The examples I have provided would reflect my own personality but make sure your writing reflects your personality. If you can provide an example of something you have done either in school or on the job in that opening paragraph, then you should do that. You may not have had a lot of experience so you need to show you’ve done something in one of your summer jobs or in the classroom that shows what you could do in this position.

After you have had an interview, send a hand-written thank you note to the person who interviewed you and mention something specific that you discussed in the interview. This will help you seal the deal. Good luck to you finding your dream job!

Nancy Marshall, owner of Marshall Communications, can be reached at

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