What are reviewers looking for in a cover letter?

People who write good cover letters make it clear

  • that they’ve taken the time to craft a personal response
  • that they’ve tailored the letter to the specific role

Reviewers are looking for applicants who have met the four goals below:

Goal 1

You have created a character (a version of yourself) so compelling that the reviewer has to meet you. To achieve that goal, you need to

  • Celebrate what you will bring to the organization without bragging
  • Demonstrate that you have the “soft skills” that all organizations need
  • Show that you’re a team player — you roll up your sleeves and help out as needed
  • Let the organization know that you’re a self starter and a life-long learner

Goal 2

You have shown that you know something about the organization. You need to

  • Write about the organization in a way that shows that you have done your homework
  • Indicate what it is about the organization that interests you
  • Show how you can contribute to the organization in your areas of interest

Goal 3

You have responded to the actual job description. You need to

  • Demonstrate that you’ve read and thought about the job description
  • Show how your gifts and skills fit what the organization is looking for
  • Talk about your skills in a way that reflects the organization of the job description
  • If technical skills are required, address that requirement directly

Goal 4

You have demonstrated how well you write. You need to

  • Communicate beautifully — organizations need good communicators
  • Make sure that there are no typographical or grammatical errors

How do you review a job description to prepare for writing a cover letter?