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Cover Letters and Emails: Open the Door to an Interview

Writing a clear, strong cover letter—whether on paper or in an email—increases your chances for an interview.

A cover letter introduces you and your resumé or application form. Your goal is to get the employer’s attention. You want to show how your skills and accomplishments make you a good fit for the job.

When your cover letter or email encourages an employer to read your resumé, it helps open the door to an interview.

Before you start

Tailor each cover letter to fit the specific job you’re applying for. Study the job posting to see how many of your skills match what this job needs. Make sure to put these in your letter.

Research the company’s goals and activities by exploring its website. If you mention a goal or activity in your letter, you’re showing your interest in the company.

Give the employer a good reason to read your resumé. Think about why you would benefit the organization and how working there would benefit you. Put these reasons in your letter.

Use this checklist for cover letters

To open that door to an interview, you should:

  • Include the job reference number and position name listed in the ad
  • Be brief, letters should be 1 page
  • Use simple, direct language
  • Keep your paragraphs short
  • Answer questions you think the employer might have about your experience and skills 
  • Personalize your letter, but don’t be pushy or too familiar
  • Be professional, humour is usually not the right approach
  • Check your letter for errors, and ask a friend to check it too
  • Use the same font as in your resumé
  • Print your letter on the same quality paper as your resumé
  • Sign your printed letter

Need help building your cover letter? Check out our Cover Letter Outline and Checklist.

Emailing your cover letter

If you’re sending your resumé by email, you have three options for your cover letter:

  1. Put your cover letter in the body of the email. Here’s a sample.
  2. Attach your cover letter as the first page of the same file that includes your resumé. In the body of the email, say that you have attached your cover letter and resumé.
  3. Attach your cover letter as one file and your resumé as another file. In the body of your email, say that you have attached your cover letter and resumé.
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