Employment Resources

Basics of the Cover Letters

Estimated reading time ~ 10 min


Basics of the Cover Letters 

The purpose of a cover letter is to improve your chances of being called for an interview, by  convincing the reader that you would be the best person for the job. If your letter is poorly written, the reader will not likely  take the time to look at your application, so your cover letter is important to make a great first impression. 

What Makes a Good Letter 


Choose only your best points—two or three that will be of the most interest to the reader—to present in well developed paragraphs. Focus on skills you can bring to the company and how your accomplishments may have benefited a  previous employer. 

A cover letter letter should: 

∙ Be single spaced, leaving one space between paragraphs. 

∙ Be about one full page in length (longer if you are more experienced). 

∙ Have carefully chosen words—pack a lot into a small space, making each word count to show that you are the  most qualified candidate for the position. 

Parts of a cover letter:

  • Inside Address—Include the name, title, organization, and mailing address. Spell the name correctly to avoid offending the  recipient—phone the company if you do not know to whom to address the letter. 

  • Salutation—Begin your letter with “Dear” followed by the reader's title and last name, ending with a colon, not a comma. 

  • Four Paragraphs Minimum—Your letter should have at least an introductory paragraph, an education paragraph, an employment paragraph, and a concluding paragraph. 

  • Complimentary Close—These are some standard phrases: Sincerely, Sincerely yours, Yours sincerely, Yours very truly, and  Very truly yours. 

  • Signature—Type your full name on the fourth line below the complimentary close. Sign in ink above your typed name. 

  • Enclosure Line—The enclosure notation refers to the resume. 

Example Cover Letter:

HBCU 20x20’s SVP of Programs and Partnerships for Professional Fellowship Program

Darius J. Newsom

2018 W. Vibranium Dr, Wakanda, AF ▪ (555) 555-5555 ▪ dennis@hbcu20x20.org 

August 8, 2020

Lemmon Foundation

ATTN: Leadership Institute Team
1720 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington D.C., DC 20036

Re: Lemmon Social Justice Fellowship 

Dear Leadership Institute,

It is with great enthusiasm that I apply for the Congressional Black Caucus Social Justice Fellowship. After reviewing the job description, I am confident in my abilities, experiences, and skillset to thrive as a fellow during the 2020-2021 Congressional sessions. 

I recently earned my Ed.D in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Elementary/ Secondary Educational Leadership from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and I have over ten years of experience in working in the Black community through education, organizing, and nonprofit organizations.  My dissertation focuses on the experiences of Black students who attended Linked Learning pathways within the state of California. Specifically, the study is centered on ensuring that Linked Learning is not sustaining the historical precedence of educational approaches, initiatives, and policies that appear to promote equality but end up leading to harmful outcomes for Black students. Such as “separate but equal,” the fight to end de jure school segregation, career-oriented education, standardized testing, including de facto re-segregation with a pushout of Black teachers from the profession, tracking which systematically continues to deny minority and low-income student’s equal opportunities, and zero tolerance. The study incorporates retrospective interviews of fifteen Black Linked Learning graduates, and found that although most participants enjoyed their experiences in Linked Learning pathways and participated in extracurricular activities, they still faced challenges including uncertainty about the preparation they received for college and career, experiences of racial microaggressions, and suffering from imposter syndrome. 

I am a driven and ambitious youth advocate who believes in the value of intentional programming, with an emphasis on internal and external partner collaboration, project tracking, data collection and culturally responsive education. My professional experiences have afforded me the opportunity to be a change agent in different capacities. For five years, I served as a Life Skills Specialist at Chicago State University. In this capacity, I worked directly with 100+ Black high school students who experienced trauma and provided them with the resources to either prepare for college and/or the workforce by hosting hands-on workshops and sessions. Later, I served as a Summer Coach for the LUV Institute on the Southside of Chicago. In this capacity, I worked directly with 60 economically disadvantaged college students in preparing and placing them into employment opportunities. This opportunity allowed me to fully understand each student’s background, experience and goals to help connect them to partnered employers.

Upon completing my Masters in Urban and Regional Planning program at the University of Michigan, I studied and researched how housing, urban planning, community development, economic development all impact the resources and academic wellbeing of each student differently. Shortly after, I worked at the National College Resources Foundation where I developed educational program strategies that complied with federal, state, local, and school district policies and developed work-based education programming with STEM and restorative justice components.

At HBCU 20x20, I developed and coordinated the program that connects students attending HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) to internships, fellowships, and entry level opportunities at companies including Space X, Uber, Intel, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, by creating strategic partnerships and developing the curriculum to ensure students were prepared for available opportunities. Currently, I am working for EXP: The Opportunity Engine overseeing a team of six program managers and three programs with the goal of supporting Title I students by preparing them to be successful in transportation, logistics, and environmental careers. 

My ability to connect with students, professionals, and stakeholders is my strong suit and has proven effective when communicating with stakeholders and team members. In addition, I have strengthened my Microsoft Office Suite, Social Media, Adobe Creative Suite, project management, and qualitative and quantitative skills to produce reports with the intent to increase future funding and measure program impacts.

My professional experiences coupled with my academic preparation have equipped me with the tools to successfully fulfill the duties and responsibilities associated with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Social Justice Fellowship. In closing, I welcome the opportunity to further discuss my qualifications. I appreciate your consideration and I hope to hear from you soon. For any additional information, please contact me by email at info@hbcu20x20.org or by phone at (555) 555-5555.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best Regards,

Darius J. Newsom


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