A Graduate Cover Letter is an accompanying document to résumé used by college graduates to apply for jobs and graduate degree programs.
A cover letter provides an opportunity for the applicants to set themselves apart from the graduate crowd by explaining their suitability for the particular role. By incorporating important information such as previous professional experiences and college-related activities, it supplements the graduate’s resume.
Importance of Writing a Cover Letter
The value of writing a good cover letter cannot be underestimated. A cover letter is often the first thing that the hiring manager checks. Hence, it is imperative to take time to write an outstanding cover letter if you want to set yourself apart from other graduates. A meticulously written cover letter will create an excellent first impression for you as a graduate applicant and may offer a good chance to grab your dream job.
Designing a good cover letter is also associated with the benefits outlined below:
Highlights your fresh knowledge
As a college graduate looking for a job, you want to demonstrate to the employer how your academic background and experiences make you an ideal candidate for the position in question. By highlighting your transferable skills and pinpointing their value to the organization, you may gain a competitive edge in the job market.
Shows your energy and enthusiasm
It is crucial to demonstrate to the employer that you are excited about the position you are applying for. Passion and interest in the job signal potential commitment to the job as well as the work ethic that you bring to the job as a recent college graduate.
Represents your professional writing skills
As you present your achievements, passion, knowledge, and experience through the cover letter, how you articulate your ideas matters. In addition, a well-written cover letter should be error-free to show the employer that you could also write meticulous emails, memos, and business documents related to your job.
Tip: Please note that networking is vital for your career. Statistics reveal that over 60% of job seekers land their dream jobs through their networks such as friends and professional networks.
Writing a Cover Letter for a Recent Graduate
If you are unsure where to start when writing your graduate cover letter, you can follow these steps and examples:
Formal salutation/opening of the letter
Include a personal greeting in the cover letter before diving into your sales pitch. The formal salutation may include words such as dear hiring manager, dear sir or madam, dear HR manager, etc. If you know the name of the hiring manager, you can write “Dear Mrs. Jennifer Clarke”. It is important to avoid generic salutations such as ‘To Whom it May Concern’. Customizing the cover letter is crucial by either including the name of the specific hiring manager or addressing it to the head of the department for the position you are applying for.
1st paragraph of the letter/salutation/introduction
Your opening sentence should be catchy and striking where you introduce yourself and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the company and the job you are applying for.
State the position you are applying for
Begin by stating the position you are applying for and how you learned about it. It is vital to ensure that the cover letter is specific to the position you are applying for.
I am highly motivated to make this application for the position of finance officer in your organization that was advertised on the company’s website.
Show your knowledge of the company
You must research the specific company you are sending your application to before drafting the cover letter. Knowledge of the company shows that you are interested in the company and could make an ideal candidate for the job. Include a sentence or two explaining what you know about the company.
I am particularly interested in your company because of its outstanding reputation in using innovative practices, technology, and solutions. My research into the company has clearly shown me that my problem-solving skills and creative approach to issues will be highly utilized in the organization.
Demonstrate your interest in the job
Express your interest in the position by explaining your reasons for writing. It is essential to draw attention to your academic qualifications and skills that align with the position you are applying for.
I am confident I will be a valuable asset to your organization because of my enthusiasm for financial management, policy design, and creative problem-solving approach.
2nd paragraph of the letter/body
Here you ‘sell’ your candidacy to your prospective employer.
You can include 3-4 lines where you:
You should state what sets you apart from other candidates. You can outline your skills, knowledge, and strengths that make you an ideal candidate for the position. The main goal is to demonstrate the value you will add to the organization and why you are good for the position. Please refrain from talking much about why you want the job.
I have excellent communication, teamwork, leadership, and interpersonal skills. I am also an outstanding researcher with top-notch analytical and problem-solving skills. My attentiveness to detail and a thorough understanding of mathematical models make me an ideal candidate for the position
Focus on activities/responsibilities in the academic time
Even if you have limited work experience as a fresh graduate, you can mention any experience and skills even if they do not directly relate to the position you are applying for. For instance, any volunteer work or names of the clubs you were a part of, can be relevant in this section. Don’t focus much on the grades or GPA or other academic metrics used in your college. Instead, outline the and activities you engaged in or roles you held. For instance, you can mention internship or leadership positions you had in the college. These examples indicate that you got what it takes to be a good employee as you were responsible as a student.
During my time as a student, I volunteered at Walden university’s IT department where I offered IT-related support. I also worked at Adventist HealthCare on a part-time basis as an IT specialist. I have always been passionate about information technology, and I look forward to establishing my career in the profession.
Connect your qualification/skills to the job position
It is crucial to explain to your employer how your skills and academic qualifications match the specific requirements of the job description and what you can offer to the organization.
I always enjoy the challenge of finding solutions to problems and issues. This is my main motivation to pursue information technology for my bachelor’s degree. My high-level understanding of the complexities of information technology will be an asset to your organization as I will provide solutions to intricate IT issues.
Tip: If you are multilingual, the language skills on your cover letter are worth mentioning to increase your competitive advantage and further strengthen your application.
3rd paragraph of the letter/body
As a fresh college graduate with less practical experience, you should emphasize your college coursework and other related experiences such as internships and extra-curricular. This demonstrates to the prospective employer that you can deliver on the job.
During my internship at Apple Inc, I worked alongside experienced IT specialists. This opportunity allowed me to gain valuable skills in software design. I helped design innovative software for the company’s most recent inventions.
4th paragraph of the letter/body
4th paragraph of the body should have the following elements:
How you are a perfect match/candidate for the job
It is important as a recent graduate to convince the employer that you are the right candidate for the job. Demonstrate your skills and competencies and how they will contribute to the company’s bottom line. In addition, you can mention a few achievements you value to demonstrate your potential further.
I am committed to delivering outstanding results, and I enjoy handling different challenges that come my way. I believe I will be a valuable asset to the organization by bringing innovation and contemporary artistic designs that will improve the company’s competitiveness in the marketplace.
Why do you want in
It is also impactful to explain your motivation for joining the company. Make sure not to present yourself as a desperate candidate. Instead, present yourself as someone worth investing in.
Your reputation as an employer shows that you not only address the needs of your clients but also of your employees. I would appreciate the opportunity to work as part of your team.
This is the last paragraph that wraps up your key message. The last paragraph is also your last chance to underscore your enthusiasm for the company and passion for the job. Therefore, it is important to finish strong by reinstating your interest in the job and mentioning that you are looking forward to an interview.
I am confident I am the right fit for this position because of my passion for research and attention to detail. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and share more about the value I would add to your organization.
Closing salutation/ professional sign-off
A closing salutation must be included at the end of the cover letter. Closing salutations include words and phrases such as thank you, sincerely, yours faithfully, and best regards. In addition, the professional sign-off needs to be followed by your name.
Tip: As a recent graduate, you can include recurring responsibilities at home or volunteer work on your cover letter.
General Templates for a Cover Letter
There is no one size fits all approach to writing a cover letter. A cover letter must be customized to match your current qualifications, employable qualities, and professional qualifications.
Here are four graduate cover letters that have been designed to match candidates’ diverse qualities and qualifications:
Example 1: Recent college graduate with ample professional experience
Dear Mr. Ben Conrad,
I am applying for the senior accountant position at Cornerstone Inc regarding the advertisement on the company’s website on 2nd August 2021. I have attached a copy of my resume, outlining my qualifications and experience, along with this letter.
I have pursued my MBA in accounting, and I am a certified public accountant (CPA). I joined the Deloitte firm as a graduate trainee for one year. I undertook several tasks such as preparing annual financial statements and financial auditing records. I was retained in the organization, and I rose through the ranks to become the senior accountant. I served in the company for seven years.
I possess great teamwork, communication, and interpersonal skills, which are vital for this post. I have adequate knowledge of various accounting tools and keep myself updated with any changes in the field.
I would welcome the opportunity to interview with you and share more about the value I would add to your organization.
Example 2: Recent college graduate with little or no experience
Dear hiring manager,
I am highly motivated to write this application for the position of finance officer in your organization that was advertised on the company’s website. I am confident I will be a valuable asset to your organization because of my enthusiasm for financial management, policy design, and creative problem-solving approach.
I have excellent communication skills, teamwork skills, leadership, and interpersonal skills. I am also an outstanding researcher with top-notch analytical and problem-solving skills. My attentiveness to detail and a thorough understanding of financial management tools make me an ideal candidate for the position.
During my internship at Unilever, I gained valuable skills in financial management. I believe these skills would add tremendous value to the company’s finance department.
I am committed to delivering outstanding results, and I enjoy handling different challenges that come my way. In addition, I believe I will be a good fit for the organization by bringing financial innovation that will boost the company’s competitiveness in the marketplace.
I am confident I am the right fit for this position because of my passion for research and attention to detail. I would welcome the opportunity to appear for an interview.
Example 3: Recent college graduate applying to graduate school
Dear admissions officer,
My name is John Watts, and I am writing to apply for the master’s degree in human resource management at Walden University. I recently graduated from Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in commerce, where I developed my interest in human resource management. I went through the university’s website, where I discovered that your organization offers a human resource management specialist program. I believe this is the right degree program for my academic advancement.
During my time at Michigan University, I was actively involved in student support at the university’s financial support department. I was allocated the task of registering underprivileged students within the university. I was also a member of various clubs including the university’s business and public speaking clubs. As a graduate student at Walden University, I would aim to participate in university activities while actively pursuing my studies.
I appreciate your consideration.
Example 4: Recent college graduate applying for a job outside of their degree field
Dear hiring manager,
I am highly motivated to make this application for the assistant events planner position advertised on the company’s website. I am highly passionate about events, and I always volunteer to plan and coordinate events for my friends and family during special occasions.
I recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance from Walden University. During my time at the university, I also completed a certification course in events management. As a result, I am a highly disciplined individual with exceptional problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills. I believe these skills could greatly benefit your organization, mainly when working with clients and teams.
I am looking forward to an opportunity to interview with you and share more about the value I would add to your organization.
Following are some free downloadable templates for you:
Tips for Writing a Cover Letter
There are a few tips, keeping which in consideration, the writer of the letter could attain beneficial results.
Following are some effective tips for writing a cover letter:
Follow the proper format
You should follow the basic format for writing a cover letter. However, every cover letter should be modified to match the specific job you are applying for. Your cover letter must include a formal salutation, an introductory paragraph, body, and conclusion.
Aspects to address in the cover letter include:
- The position you are applying for and why
- Your relevant experiences and competencies
- Why the employer should hire you
- A request for an interview
Include a header in the letter
A header that provides your name, contact information, and the address of the recipient company needs to be included in the cover letter.
Use keywords related to the job description
You can enhance your cover letter by using keywords and phrases related to the position you are applying for. Right keywords can make your application pass through applicant tracking systems that most employers use to screen applicants.
You don’t want to submit a cover letter that is full of errors and inconsistencies. Proofreading ensures that the final document is error-free with no spelling and grammatical mistakes.
- An excellent cover letter can help you stand out from the graduate crowd.
- It is vital to research the company and the job you are applying for.
- Tailor your cover letter to match the role, and don’t forget to follow the basic format for a cover letter.
- Proofread your letter to check for formatting and spelling errors.