The cover letter is simply a “letter” that accompanies your resume and serves as an introduction to your qualifications. Its main purpose is to attract employers to review your resume. The cover letter, therefore, is extremely important and MUST communicate how you can contribute to the organization in a meaningful way. Employers are primarily interested in how your skills can fulfill their needs. Remember, a cover letter is a sample of your writing, so a well-written cover letter highlight your writing abilities.

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Provide three concrete examples of how you meet the requirements listed for the position. Each example should be mentioned in your resume and be no longer than a couple of sentences. This strategy will make it easy for the employer to see that you have the skills they are seeking. 

Demonstrate a targeted interest

Tell the employer why you are interested in their organization or position by mentioning something specific (i.e. I was impressed to see organization xyz made the top 10 list of the Best Federal Agencies,” or “I am specifically interested in the xyz internship program because it is one of the few in the DC area that works with the xyz population.”   

Use power statements

The first sentence in each paragraph is most often read, so make it powerful by highlighting your skills (e.g., “I have excellent communication, analytical, and problem solving skills. During my last internship I…” provide a concrete example for each). End with a fit statement. The last paragraph is your chance to mention additional skills, not previously mentioned, that address the position requirements (e.g., “I feel confident that my ability to work in teams, organizational skills and penchant for working with details would make me a great fit for the position”).