Welcome to part II of cover letters! This post will pick up where my last post left off by giving a brief overview of the body and closing paragraphs in a cover letter.
The body paragraph is the meat and potatoes of the cover letter. This paragraph is the main reason you are writing the cover letter. In the body paragraph, you want to expand on your relevant experience. You want to convince the reader that you will be a good fit for the position you are applying for. Since you are trying to say a lot in one paragraph it is extremely important to be as concise as possible. Example:
During my position as a mechanical engineering intern at Cirrus Aircraft I worked on designing the propellers for the new line of planes by making SolidWorks models, prototypes, and test procedures.
As an engineer intern at Cirrus I designed airplane propellers from concept design to testing.
Body paragraphs, and cover letters in general, are things that I would encourage you to continuously work on. There seems to always be a sentence or idea that you can improve upon.
The body paragraph is also a great place to expand on some of your transferable and less concrete skills such as communication, leadership, problem solving, teamwork, etc. Sometimes it is difficult to express these kinds of skills in a resume. You can always tell the employer that you have these skills, but it doesn’t mean much unless you give some concrete examples.
On a final note, don’t forget that a cover letter is an opportunity to display your writing skills. It is very uncommon to find a profession that doesn’t value great written communication skills. One of the reasons that some employers ask for cover letters is to see your writing skills.
In the closing paragraph there are a few key things that you want to do. A good way to start this paragraph would be to reiterate your excitement/interest in the position. Then you should directly ask to schedule or meet for and interview at their convenience to further discuss how your skills will be a valuable contribution to the position. Next, you will give them your contact information (typically your phone number and email) in case they have any questions. After the closing paragraph there will be a one-sentence paragraph thanking them for their time, consideration, etc.
As you can see, the closing paragraph is much more generic than the introduction or body paragraphs, but I still strongly encourage you to be creative and not copy and paste someone else’s work.
Hopefully these last two posts have given you some good ideas and helped you better understand the intent of a cover letter. Even if you aren’t currently job hunting I would recommend you start writing some practice letters. The first one is always the hardest, but soon you will be an expert!
Of Possible Interest:
- Cover Letters: The Introduction Paragraph
- Ace the Job Search (Pinterest board)
- Resume & Cover Letter topic page (ALL of our posts on the blog about this topic)
- Sample Cover Letter (UMD Career Handbook)