Writing a cover letter as a recent college graduate can seem complicated because you have limited work experience. However, there are ways to show the employer that you are an ideal candidate for the job.
Read below for advice on writing a cover letter for an entry-level position as a college graduate, as well as an example letter.
What to Include in Your Cover Letter
Introductory Paragraph: In the first paragraph of your cover letter, express your interest in both the job and the employer, mentioning the company by name. Cite the source where you discovered the job announcement. If you have a connection at the company who you know would support your candidacy, mention their name here.
Do not use a generic cover letter for all of your job applications. Each one should be reworked to speak directly to the identity and needs of the employer to whom it is sent.
Body Paragraphs: Use two or three short paragraphs in the body of your cover letter to “sell” your candidacy to the employer. While you should definitely mention the name of your college and your major (especially if this is directly related to the job), your cover letter shouldn’t be a simple biography of your academic history.
Instead, try to persuasively demonstrate how your college studies, internships, temporary / seasonal work experiences, and / or extracurricular experiences have given you the primary qualifications listed on the employer’s job posting.
Closing Paragraph: In your closing paragraph, reiterate your enthusiasm for the job opportunity and thank the employer for their consideration. This is the best place to request a personal interview and to explain how you intend to follow up on your application.
Tips for Writing a Recent College Graduate Cover Letter
Use keywords. Take a careful look at the job description, noting any skills or experiences that the description indicates. Try to include some of those keywords in your cover letter. This will show the employer a connection between your experiences and the job.
Focus on activities and responsibilities. In the body of your cover letter, emphasize the skills and experiences that make you a good candidate. Avoid focusing on your GPA or grades, or other metrics related to college. Instead, focus on activities you did, and the responsibilities you held. Maybe you had an internship or were a leader in a school organization. These examples go beyond showing that you were a good student. They show you have what it takes to be a good employee.
Sell yourself. Avoid talking about how much you want the job; instead, focus on how you will help out the company. Emphasize ways that you can add value at the company, and why you are a good fit for them.
Show your knowledge of the company. Research the company before writing the cover letter. If possible, explain what you know about the company (or the department the job is in). Perhaps you’ve read an article about the company’s recent successes, or you’ve read and believed in the company’s mission statement.
Knowledge of the company will put you a step above the competition.
Edit, edit, edit. Make sure you thoroughly read through your letter, editing any typos or grammar errors. Keep your message short and to-the-point, using language that is easy to understand. Ask a friend or career coach to read it for you as well.
Recent College Graduate Cover Letter Example
You can use this cover letter sample as a model. Download the template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online), or read the text version below.
Recent College Graduate Cover Letter Example (Text Version)
City, State Zip Code
City, State Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. LastName,
I am writing to apply for the position of Media Relations Assistant Manager, which I saw advertised on MediaJobs.com. ABCD is a fast-moving global institution and an outstanding communications pioneer, now poised to guide the direction of print journalism. I believe that my extensive experience in media makes me an ideal candidate for this position at your company.
As a recent graduate of the State University, I have a significant background in media. As a media major, I held multiple internships, including Media Relations Coordinator Intern at XYZ Company. I also served as president of the Media and Marketing Club at school. We successfully developed and pitched an advertisement campaign for a local nonprofit, which helped increase donations to the nonprofit by 22 percent.
You state in your job listing that you are looking for someone with strong writing skills and an attention to detail. Throughout all four years of college, I worked part-time as a copy editor for an online journal. This job required great attention to detail in writing and editing. I would love to bring my editing skills to a position with your company.
These strengths, combined with deep and varied academic, internship, and employment experience, have prepared me to make a strong and immediate impact at ABCD.
I am excited about the opportunity to join the ABCD team as it moves to the center of the print media conversation. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Your Signature (hard copy letter)
Your Typed Name
How to Send an Email Cover Letter
If you're sending your cover letter via email, list your name and the job title in the subject line of the email message. Include your contact information in your email signature, and don't list the employer contact information. Start your email message with the salutation.
YOUR COVER LETTER IS YOUR “SALES PITCH”: Your cover letter is far more than an expression of your interest in a job opening. Ideally, it should be a powerful marketing document that summarizes the unique qualifications that you could bring to the employer.
FOCUS ON THE EMPLOYER: Every statement you make in your cover letter should serve to respond to the needs of the employer (as these are expressed in their job announcement). Don’t write extensive biography here. Instead, highlight the skills you offer.
MAKE YOUR COVER LETTER LETTER-PERFECT: Most hiring managers view carelessly written, generic cover letters as a red flag. Carefully edit your letter to eliminate all grammatical, spelling, and formatting errors. Ask a grammar-savvy friend to proofread it for you as well.