Cover letters can be a pain to write. Applying for jobs would be much easier if all you had to do was submit a resume.

But even though writing a cover letter can be a hassle, it can also make your application stand out. It’s important to take advantage of this opportunity to tell your story and to explain why you’re qualified for a job.

When should you write a cover letter?

The short answer is: ALWAYS. Unless you are asked specifically not to write one, a strong cover letter always enhances your application. Cover letters tell a story that your resume cannot. They show your value while also conveying your enthusiasm for a job.

How do you write a cover letter?

Cover letters should be tailored to the specific job for which you are applying. They should not be generic.

The first step to writing a cover letter is to research the job and company. Next, use this research to target your cover letter to the hiring manager, demonstrating your depth of knowledge of the organization and position. Also, make sure to explain why you are applying for this particular job at this particular company.

When writing your cover letter, start with a direct statement. You want to get your reader’s attention right away. Additionally, remember that your reader also is looking at your resume—so there’s no need to re-list everything on your resume in your cover letter. Instead, use the cover letter to give context about your experience and education. Using short anecdotes or explanations that outline past successes will emphasize your skills.

If you need help with the basics, check out this article on how to write a great cover letter.

MPOWER pro-tip 1

You don’t need to have the exact skill set or experience a potential employer is seeking, you just need to demonstrate that you are capable and adaptable. For example, perhaps an employer is looking for someone who has experience in corporate sales. Let’s say you don’t have experience in sales in an office setting, but you have worked as a server at a restaurant and have developed strong people skills. In your cover letter, you can highlight how these skills are connected.

How long should your cover letter be?

Assume that the hiring manager is busy, and make sure that your cover letter is one page maximum. Emphasize what makes you a strong, unique candidate in a concise, compelling manner. Remember, you can always continue telling your potential employer more about yourself during your interview.

MPOWER pro-tip 2

As always, you should reach out to your university career center before you submit an application (or contact us if you are using MPOWER to cover your college costs!) to have a second pair of eyes look over what you’ve written.


Good luck on your job hunt! Like everything else, writing cover letters gets easier the more you practice, so keep at it. The sooner you find a job you love, the sooner you will get out of student loan debt and pay for college! Let us know if you land your dream job below in the comments section—we want to hear from you!

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