For recent graduates newly on the job market, writing an effective cover letter is just as important as crafting a strong resume. In a cover letter, you'll build a case for your candidacy and pitch yourself to the employer. If your cover letter is a success, you’ll receive a follow-up from the recruiter, human resources person, or hiring manager.
As a recent grad, it can sometimes be hard to know how to prove you will be an excellent candidate since you probably do not have a ton of on-the-job experience. However, between summer jobs, campus jobs, internships, campus involvement, and volunteer work, you likely have more experience than you think.
Tips for Writing a Strong Cover Letter
There are two things to consider when writing a cover letter. The first is the content of the letter:
- What will you write to show that you are a strong candidate for the job? Do not copy the information in your resume precisely; instead, cherry-pick your most relevant experience and skills. Read the job ad carefully to get a sense of what the employer is looking for in candidates. It's always best if you can personalize your cover letter — explain to the hiring manager why you would like to work at this company specifically.
The second factor in a cover letter is the format. Whether you send a hard copy cover letter or an email one, it's important to format your letter correctly:
- Review the essential elements of the cover letter, including the salutation, cover letter body, closing, and signature. Then, follow these formatting tips to help your letter stand out.
Your message should be in a formal business-letter format and be targeted to the job to which you’re applying.
Sample Cover Letter and Template
This is an example of a cover letter for a recent college graduate. Download the college graduate cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Sample Cover Letter for a Recent College Graduate (Text Version)
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
September 1, 2018
Director, Human Resources
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
Dear Ms. Lee,
I would like to express my interest in a position as an editorial assistant for your publishing company. As a recent graduate with writing, editing, and administrative experience, I believe I am a strong candidate for a position at the Acme Publishing Company.
You specify that you are looking for someone with strong writing skills. As an English major, a writing tutor, and an editorial intern for both a government magazine and a college marketing office, I have become a skilled writer with a variety of experience.
Working as an office assistant at the Career Services Office at Acme College has given me the skills necessary to perform various administrative tasks required of an editorial assistant. My job has helped me gain experience in making phone calls, performing ordinary office duties, and executing numerous tasks that involve computer programs such as Microsoft Access and Excel. For three years I have carried out these responsibilities and others with organization, speed, and accuracy, and I know I will be able to apply these abilities to a position with your company.
Although I am a recent college graduate, my maturity, practical experience, and eagerness to enter the publishing business will make me an excellent editorial assistant. I would love to begin my career with your company and am confident that I would be a beneficial addition to the Acme Publishing Company.
I have enclosed my resume and will call within the next week to see if we might arrange a time to speak together. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
Signature [hard copy letter]
How to Send an Email Cover Letter
1. Choose the appropriate subject line. If you're sending your cover letter via email, list your name and the job title in the subject line of the email message, e.g.: “Barbara Smith – Graphic Designer.”
2. Keep your message brief and to the point. Attention spans are short, especially when the reader is trying to get through a packed inbox. Aim for three paragraphs, max, and mention the important information right up front. For example, if you’ve been referred for a job, say that in the first paragraph.
3. Include your contact information in your email signature. That will make it easy for hiring managers to get in touch with you.
4. Proofread and test your message before sending it. Make sure your cover letter is typo-free and formatted correctly.
Email Cover Letter Example
Subject: Alicia Sanchez - Marketing Assistant Position
Dear Ms. Roberts,
George Markowitz recommended that I contact you to express my interest in the role of marketing assistant, which you’ve recently advertised on Elemenco’s jobs page.
I interned with George for two years at Z-Ray before he joined your team, and he can speak to my passion for developing and supporting marketing strategies. In my current role, I work closely with the senior content team to develop campaigns and monitor the success of our programs. I believe my experience makes me an excellent candidate for the job at Elemenco. I have:
Two years of experience as a marketing intern
- A bachelor’s degree in Marketing & Advertising
- Strong communication and problem-solving skills
- Advanced Google Analytics, Marketo, and Microsoft Office skills
I’d love to speak with you more about your requirements for the role. I hope you’ll contact me at your convenience to set up an interview.
123 Main Street
XYZ Town, NY 11111