1. Say my name

“Destiny’s Child had the best advice—say my name, say my name, say my name. Too many cover letters do not refer to the firm or organization to which people are applying. Résumés are for proving your qualifications; cover letters are about showing your fitness for the position. What a hiring manager is looking for in a cover letter is, primarily, that you’ve done your homework, that you understand what they’re about and what they’re looking for. Saying the organization’s name helps them see that you've done that homework, you understand what they’re looking for, you’re passionate about working for them. One of the first things I do when reading a cover letter is see how many times the student will actually even just say where they’re applying.”

2. Confidence is key

“Everybody finishes their cover letters with, ‘I hope to hear from you soon,’ or ‘I believe my skills are a good fit for this company.’ The language of belief and hope should be scrubbed out of everyone’s cover letters. End your cover letter with, ‘I look forward to talking to you soon about this opportunity.’ Not ‘I believe my skills as a humanist prepare me for this work,’ but rather, ‘My experience as a humanist gives me the qualitative skills necessary to succeed in this role.’”

3. Sign the damn thing

“Applying for jobs can feel inherently dehumanizing. It’s very easy to download a simple app on your smartphone, draw your signature with your finger, and then paste it into a letter. It humanizes you just a little bit more. The small differences can mean a lot when you’re applying for jobs, and the little touches can be important.”
—As told to Susie Allen, AB’09