Simple Cover Letter Template for College Students
A good cover letter template will allow you to quickly and clearly communicate who you are and why you are valuable to a recruiter as an up and coming college student.
Unfortunately for many people, the cover letter often plays second fiddle to the resume during the job search prep. People think of the cover letter as more of a Scotty Pippen rather than Michael Jordan. Or that other Kardashian that isn’t Kim or Khloe.
While a good cover letter itself won’t land you the job, we do know that a bad cover letter will send your application straight to the trash.
Here’s what a typical cover letter looks like. Would you be excited about hiring this person?
Here’s how that same cover letter could be written to be much more effective. Use this as your cover letter template to start from:
When it comes to a cover letter template we decided to create something simple to follow and to go section by section to force you to think about what you are writing.
Let’s be honest when you are having to write dozens of cover letters, it’s tempting to simply copy and paste material and call it a day. We could have just given you one document to fill in the blanks, but we have found that to be ineffective. Follow our step by step template instead.
A few key things to remember as you craft your cover letter:
- Keep it one page in length
- Customize it to the company you are applying to
- Don’t make outrageous or impassioned claims
- Make sure everything in it either explains why you are interested in the role, why you want to work for this company, and why you are qualified. Anything else is irrelevant.
1st Paragraph – Introduction
Make this paragraph short and sweet. This paragraph is to say who you are and why you are writing this cover letter in under two sentences. Using this paragraph to name drop one or two people you have met at the company isn’t a bad idea either but don’t overdo it.
Sample Format: “My name is X and I am a Y year Z major at the University of ABC. I am writing to apply for the X position at Y company given my interest in the ABC industry and my desire to be part of Y company’s area of expertise.
Example: My name is John Smith and I am a 3rd-year economics major at the University of California. I am writing to apply for the Financial Analyst position at Goldman Sachs given my interest in the bond market and my desire to be part of Goldman’s industry leading performance in this area.
2nd Paragraph – Why Me?
Your objective here is to tell your reader why you have what it takes to make a difference at their company. Avoid empty phrases like “I am a hardworking and motivated person.” Show instead of tell using detailed evidence of your capabilities from what you have studied and accomplished in school. Relate them to what the job description. Pro Tip: Short bullets are very effective way to format this section.
Sample Format: While studying X and doing Y, I have gained the incredible knowledge and experience that will enable me to be successful at this role
- Skill / Experience 1, the results / outcome, why will it allow you to excel at your job
- Skill / Experience 2, the results / outcome, why will it allow you to excel at your job
- Skill / Experience 3, the results / outcome, why will it allow you to excel at your job
Example: While studying economics and working as a part-time manager at the campus bookstore, I have gained incredible knowledge and experience that will enable me to be a successful financial analyst:
- Extensive Modeling Skills: I received A’s in all of my advanced economics classes which emphasize quantitative analysis using complex models. I see myself using my advanced regression analysis models to find hidden correlations in financial data
- Client Management Ability: I solve problems and build relationships in my bookstore job by interacting with hundreds of customers a day. Our store has never had a satisfaction rating below 90%. Because this role will have client facing responsibilities, I will be able to apply my maturity and communications skills to manage constantly evolving client demands
3rd Paragraph – Why this Job?
Present why you are a fit for this job given your past interests and skills. Be very specific on answering what you hope to get out of this job and why it is interesting to you.
Sample Format: This role is a strong fit for me because I have always been interested in X having done Y and Z. My goal with this job is to match this particular interest or personal attribute with this specific goal of the company.
Example: The financial analyst role is a strong fit for me because I have always been interested in bonds and finance. I have even started an investment club at the University of California to test different trading strategies. My goal with this job is to use my love for finance and my economics background to develop new innovative approaches to pricing bonds for the international bond trading group because I believe there is opportunity to find underpriced assets in today’s low interest environment.
4th Paragraph – Why this Company?
This paragraph is all about wooing the company and explaining to them that you know what they are all about and why you fit in with their culture and mission. Be very specific and personal on why the company interests you. Back this all up with examples. Avoid plugging in generic responses that you would find off the company’s website and recruiting materials.
Sample Format: I am choosing to apply to company XYZ because of its approach to X and it’s expertise in Y. In my conversations with John Doe and doing x research has convinced me that company XYZ is my top choice / will enable me to do my best work in Y.
Example: I am choosing to apply to Goldman Sachs because of the company’s commitment to the best client service and it’s deep expertise in the international bond market. I have spoken to many members of my school’s alumni group in finance and all of them speak highly of client service being the key to success. Adding that to the fact that major finance publications like Bloomberg frequently cite Goldman as the leading authority in this space, it was easy for me to make this company my top choice of employers to work for.
5th Paragraph – The Close
The should be a quick sentence that does three things: thank your reader, remind them that your resume is enclosed, and provide an email where you can be reached.
Sample Format: Thank for your time in reviewing my application and as a reminder, my resume is attached. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have further questions.
That completes our cover letter template. We also highly recommend that you use our resume guide in addition to our cover letter template. It has an actual sample resume that you can use to build yours off of.
Oh and one more thing. A nice cover letter or resume is useless without having actual experience to go in it. Most students don’t realize that not all experience is created equal. Resumes filled with examples from part-time jobs and extracurriculars won’t get you hired. The most desirable experience comes from working with a well-recognized company to create value through solving a real business problem.
We have worked with companies like Amazon, Target, and Ernst & Young to give students the ability to get access to this type of experience. See what big name companies are looking to add to your experience using the link below: