There are many guides to cover letter writing. For a comprehensive guide to cover letters, I suggest starting with your college’s career development website. They will have resources on formatting, content, keywords, etc.
Many students, though, when searching for an internship or first job, report that even after reviewing many cover letter guides, they don’t know how to get started. Every cover letter needs to be different so trying to create a first draft or template can feel very overwhelming, even impossible. This series of blog posts will cover the tips that some of our Philadelphia Futures’ collegians and alums have found helpful.
First paragraph: Introduction
- Don’t introduce yourself using your name. You will be signing the document. There’s no need to start by saying, “My name is…”
- Do refer to the specific organization and title. Saying something generic like “I would like to be a part of your organization” tells the person reviewing your cover letter that you are not ACTUALLY interested in the job they have posted. You are interested in ANY job.
- Do refer to how you heard of the position. It’s great if you have a personal connection but if you found the position posted online, that’s okay. Refer to that.
- Summarize in ONE sentence why you would be a good match for that job.
Generic first paragraph template:
I am writing to express my interest in the (insert position title) position posted on the (insert website) website. (Insert name of organization)‘s mission of (insert a paraphrase of the organization’s mission) is important to me, as I (insert why you are invested in the mission). I believe that my (insert two or three of your qualifications) would make me a great candidate for the (insert position title) position.
Specific sample first paragraph: Here’s an example for an entry-level Program Assistant job at Philadelphia Futures (not actually an open position right now– Jack and Akilah are both doing great work!).
I am writing to express my interest in the Program Assistant position posted on the Philadelphia Futures website. Philadelphia Futures’ mission of working with first-generation students from low-income families is important to me as I recently became the first person in my family to graduate from college. I believe that my personal background, bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and two years’ experience as a resident assistant at Millersville University would make me a great candidate for the Program Assistant position.
You can not write the first paragraph of a cover letter without the title, name of the organization, understanding the mission of the organization (this requires you to do some basic research), and your qualifications for the job.
A generic first paragraph is not okay!
Thanks for reading Part 1. Check out Part 2 to be posted very soon!