Part 2: Five Ways to Write a Better Cover Letter

Let’s put an end to “to whom this may concern” cover letters. Good cover letters add personality to your resume, clearly and simply communicate your credentials, and tell the reader what you want them to hear.

Here are a few tips:

The Half-Page Rule Rules

Keep it to a half-page to respect the reader’s time and increase the likelihood that they’ll read your entire cover letter. This also forces you to eliminate fluff.

Think Call and Response

The job listing is the call, your cover letter is the response. If the job listing says that a candidate should know JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, list the specific experience, projects, and education that you have in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. And so on.

Use Headings and Bullets

Use headings and bullets to describe your abilities and experience—not paragraphs. If the job listing says that a candidate should know Objective-C and Swift, use “Objective-C” and “Swift” as headings; then add bulleted lists under each to describe your experience, accomplishments, and education in those fields.

Be Conversational

Use words and phrasing that would actually come out of your mouth if you spoke to the reader face to face. Before you hit send, ask yourself, “Would I actually say this?” If the answer is “No,” start over.

Get Personal

In addition to your skills, employers want to know your personality. At the end of your cover letter, throw in a sentence that gives the reader an idea of who you are. For example, “Outside of work I read books like it’s nobody’s business, eat scoops of Molly Moon’s lavender-honey ice cream on a waffle cone, take my dog, Goose, on walks through downtown, and volunteer at The Bridge Care Center.”

Stay tuned for Part 3!

Part 1: Shy Guy’s Guide to Meetups

Career development is a large part of our 10-week Code 401 curriculum. This article is part two of a five-part series and a glimpse into the training students receive to polish their online presence and be successful in their job search. Learn More »

Next PostPrevious Post

About the Author