A College Student Cover Letter is a document that is often attached with an applicant’s resume that introduces him/her to a potential employer. The college student cover letter is usually considered the starting point in a fresh college graduate’s career, and it’s an opportunity for the job applicant to make a positive impression on the prospective employer and sell his/her skills and technical know-how to the employer.
A college student cover letter usually has three goals: expressing why an applicant is interested in a particular organization, demonstrating that the applicant has the necessary skills and knowledge required to perform the job well, and showing that he/she is a good fit for the organization.
Prerequisites of Writing the Letter
Writing a cover letter for college students is a challenging task. The writer of the letter needs to make sure that their writing is crisp and at the same time relevant. One also needs to ensure that the cover letter is interesting and engaging to the reader. To craft a good cover letter, an applicant needs to understand the prerequisites for crafting such a letter.
These are explained below:
Conduct some research
Before embarking on writing a college student cover letter, it is essential that the applicant finds out more information about the company and the open job position. One good way of finding out this information is by reading the job description to identify the specific qualities that the employer is looking for in a candidate. Another approach involves perusing its website, its executive’s Twitter feeds, and employee profiles on LinkedIn to understand the company culture. More informative research of the company enables the applicant to customize their cover letter, and it also helps them decide on the right tone to use throughout their college student cover letter.
Verify the Instructions
If possible, an applicant should reach out to the hiring manager or someone else that they know at the company and request them to verify instructions regarding addressing the letter and submitting it.
The employer might be specific about submitting the letter online via email or online application fields, or through traditional mail.
By verifying information, the letter’s writer can follow the employer’s instructions to the latter, which is an excellent way of demonstrating keenness and attention to detail skills, a quality that most employers look for in suitable candidates.
Ascertain the recipient’s contact information
Another vital cover letter pre-writing consideration that the applicant should consider is ascertaining the recipient’s contact information. This is beneficial if the student is sending a hard copy of the application documents, in that they will have to write the recipient’s correct name and address for them to receive it.
However, if the application is to be submitted online, the letter writer should verify the recipient’s email address by double-checking the job posting or advertisement to ensure it reaches its intended audience.
Writing a College Student Cover Letter
A college student cover letter can increase or break an applicant’s chances of securing an interview with a prospective employer. Through the letter, an applicant has the opportunity to make a connection with the hiring manager and increase their prospects of landing the coveted job in a reputable organization.
To write an effective college student cover letter, consider this professional how-to guide:
Step 1- Provide contact details
As with a resume, an effective college student cover letter should start with a contact information section placed as the document’s header. In this section, the applicant should write all the essential information, including their full name, phone number, email address, and provide the date of writing the letter. The letter writer can also consider adding their social media profiles relevant to the field or include their personal website (if any) to add value to the application.
Next, the applicant should provide the receiver’s contact information, including the hiring manager’s name and professional title, the company’s name, and email address.
Note: The above format of addressing the college student cover letter is applicable when writing paper form of letters. However, if the employer requires the application to be submitted via mail, the applicant can skip this step, but be sure to use a professional email address of the student’s first and last name.
Step 2- Greeting/salutation
After properly addressing the college student’s cover letter, proceed to write the cover letter contents. The first thing to write is a salutation/greeting directed to the hiring manager and not using the overly popular “dear sir/madam” salutation or “To whom it may concern.”
One main benefit of personalizing the greeting using the recipient’s name is to demonstrate your skills as the applicant in terms of research skills to the prospective employer and show that you are zealous about working with the company’s team.
However, sometimes a quick lookup through the company’s website and executives’ social media profiles does not disclose the company hiring manager’s name.
The applicant can use the following alternative greeting lines:
- Dear [department, e.g., Finance, Marketing team]
- Dear hiring manager.
Tip: If an applicant already knows the hiring manager’s name but is unsure of their titles and gender-specific names, they should avoid using specific titles and gender-specific names and opt for a general salutation—for example, Dear Finley Anderson.
Step 3- Add subject line
The next step of writing an effective college student cover letter involves creating a subject line that immediately communicates the letter’s purpose. This is especially in cases where the cover letter is to be submitted online via email. Most job descriptions guide applicants on what to use as subject lines for their covering letters; therefore, be sure to check the job descriptions and follow the employer’s instructions.
Step 4- Write a strong introductory paragraph
When it comes to job search, an applicant’s first impressions play a major role in influencing the recruiter’s decision to hire the candidate or not. Since recruiters typically get hundreds or thousands of applications on a single, they are not likely to read each applicant’s college cover letter end-to-end.
For this reason, an applicant should write an introductory paragraph that immediately grabs the recruiter’s attention, making them want to read more. To achieve this, an applicant should start their letter by mentioning why the open position is exciting to them and what they are bringing to the table. The applicant can then include a sentence or two about their background and provide their top 2-3 skills relevant to the job.
Note: While writing this section, the applicant should avoid rehashing their resume or including common platitudes. Always write something direct and dynamic.
Step 5- Writing the body paragraphs
After opening strong in the introductory paragraph, the applicant should proceed to write the body paragraphs of the college student cover letter. Typical cover letters for college students are usually split into two main body paragraphs: The first is for explaining why the candidate is the perfect person for the job, and the latter is for proving that the applicant is an ideal fit for the overall company.
Body paragraph 1- Show off accomplishments or an impressive background
The college student cover letter’s body paragraph 1 is where the student displays their professional skills and convinces the recruiter that they are a better fit for the job compared to all the other candidates. In most cases, this section involves writing about an applicant’s educational background and providing previous work experience pertinent to what the employer is looking for in ideal candidates.
Since the applicant is a student with no relevant work experience to show off, he/she can highlight their education which is their prime asset at the time. It is also a great idea to mention their academic distinctions, such as a GPA above 3.5, to give the hiring manager an overview of the job applicant’s qualifications. In addition, the applicant can also use specific examples to highlight their notable accomplishments.
Participation in extracurricular activities to demonstrate to the employer that they are well-rounded candidates.
However, it is important to note that the extracurricular activities should be relevant to the job.
Tip: Besides an impressive educational background and notable accomplishments in extracurricular activities, a job applicant should also project their soft skills in the cover letter to prove to an employer that they possess additional skills to perform the job well.
Examples of soft skills that are relevant to almost all jobs to highlight in the letter may include adaptability skills, ability to learn quickly, collaboration skills, problem-solving skills, initiative skills, interpersonal skills, time management skills, Microsoft word, excel, PowerPoint skills, communication skills, active listening, among other skills.
Body paragraph 2- Show excitement, enthusiasm, and passion
Recruiters are always looking for candidates who will be good at the job and be a great fit for the company culture. Therefore, the college student needs to convince the employer that they are enthusiastic about being part of the company’s team. Thus, in two or three sentences, the applicant should communicate why their educational background and transferrable skills make them an apt fit for the company culture.
Note: While writing this part, an applicant should mention something about the company that impresses them and provides specific examples rather than being generic. This shows that they did proper company research, demonstrating their genuine interest in working for the company. For instance, if the applicant is impressed by the employer’s culture of instilling a team-oriented environment for all employees within the organization, he/she should mention it in the cover letter.
Step 6- Wrap up the letter with call to action
Here, the applicant wants to wrap up their college student cover letter and provide a conclusion.
The applicant can end their college student cover letter by following these important tips:
- Adding any other additional information that is not already mentioned in the cover letter that could help influence the recruiter’s decision to hire the student
- Appreciating the hiring manager for taking the time to review their application. Whereas it’s important to be courteous, the applicant should not come off as being too needy.
- The applicant can end the covering letter by including a call-to-action sentence- requesting the recruiter for an interview or directing them to the student’s attached resume or portfolio. Finally, the student can be proactive and express their intention to follow up with a call or email.
Step 7- Sign-off the college student cover letter
The last step of writing an effective college student cover letter involves writing the right formal closure, then providing their full name and signature.
An applicant can use any of the following sign-off clauses, including:
- Kind regards,
- Thank you,
- Best regards, etc.
Sample Letters & Templates
College student cover letter templates – by type
Tips for Writing a College Student Cover Letter
A college student cover letter can make or break an applicant’s chances of getting his/her foot in the door for a job.
Illustrated below is a list of tips that will help a college student’s cover letter get the attention of hiring managers and recruiters:
Make use of a proper cover letter format
Despite recently graduating from college and probably having no work experience, an applicant should write a strong covering letter that demonstrates professionalism and creates a positive impression.
To format the letter properly, make sure it includes an introduction, at least two body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Besides, make the letter brief- between 300-400 words maximum, and use a font size of 11 or 12. The font type to use should be Times New Roman, Calibri, or Cambria. Throughout the letter, use a margin of ½-1 on both sides.
Focus the letter on the future
It is a great idea for an applicant to focus their covering letter on the future. Think of it as a link between the past and the future that explains what the student hopes to do next and why, and view it as an opportunity to sell transferrable skills.
Always use an appropriate tone
While writing the college student cover letter, applicants should maintain an upbeat tone and avoid saying what they do not mean. Authenticity, maturity, and professionalism are of utmost essence here.
Include keywords in the letter
Another good practice of writing a cover letter for a college student includes using keywords related to the open position. This can help an applicant get an interview as these are specific words that recruiters look for when considering applications.
Before submitting the cover letter for college students to the hiring manager, share it with a few people and obtain genuine feedback. It is recommended that the applicant specifies the kind of feedback they need such that it’s easy to review the document.
Proofread the letter
One should proofread the letter and identify any grammatical or spelling errors before sending it out to the recipient. This demonstrates to the employer that the applicant is keen and attentive to details.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a College Student Cover Letter Template?
A college student cover letter template is an online document that students can review, download, and customize by keying in their specific details to meet their unique needs and print for use. College student cover letter templates are often written by experts and usually include all the essential contents of a well-written covering letter.