How to Write a Cover Letter

  • Do your research. When writing a cover letter make sure to personalize it to the specific job you want and not submit a generalized cover letter. By researching, you can customize the content to fit the job you are applying for. Read the job description thoroughly, look at the organization’s website, and check out their social media sites.
  • Focus on the future. Resumes are meant to highlight your past accomplishments and experiences, but your cover letter needs to focus on where you want to go. This is an opportunity to sell your skills. 
  • Have a strong opening. In the past it was recommended to write cover letters starting with, “I’m applying for (X) job, that I saw (X) place”. Instead start with a great opening like why this job excites you and what you would bring to the table. For example: “I have 3 years of experience working on varying livestock operations. I’m looking for an opportunity to apply my skills in a new way working with multi species grazing.” The cover letter is a great place to talk about your background and relevant experience, but don’t just rehash your resume. Catch their attention. Hiring staff will be reading many cover letters, make sure yours will catch their attention. Use personal connections to your advantage–they’re worth mentioning in the first few sentences of a cover letter.  
  • Emphasize your personal value. When hiring, most employers look for someone who can help them solve problems and bring new ideas to the table. Draw on your research here. Reinforce your knowledge on what the operation does and what challenges they face. Then talk about how your experience has prepared you to meet those needs. Potentially describe how you have solved a similar problem in the past. Describing an example of how you’ve solved a specific problem goes further than vague statements about your ability to solve problems.
  • Convey enthusiasm. Employers want people who convey enthusiasm by highlighting your passion for their work. They need to know that you are committed to them and their work. Help them see this is your dream job. 
  • Watch your tone. Be authentic, don’t say something while conveying enthusiasm that doesn’t truly represent your feelings toward the job. Make sure you sound mature and professional. 
  • Keep it short. Keep it under a page or shorter. Employers should be able to read it at a glance. This is just a glimpse into who you are. 
  • Get feedback. Make sure you have multiple people read your cover letter and give you feedback. Ask reviewers if they can identify your main point and what your story is telling. You also need constructive criticism on what you should correct.