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How to write a college graduate cover letter

Creating a cover letter as a recent college graduate might seem challenging, but it's a crucial part of your job application. Here's a roadmap to assist you in crafting a compelling cover letter;

Format and Structure

  1. Header: Start with your name, address, phone number, and email at the top. Then, add the date.
  2. Employer’s Contact Information: Include the recipient's name, title, company name, and address.
  3. Salutation: Address the letter to a specific person. If you're unable to find a name, opt for "Dear Hiring Manager."


  1. Opening Sentence: Begin with a compelling statement to grab the reader's attention.
  2. Position and How You Found It: State the position you’re applying for and where you saw the job listing.
  3. Brief Summary: Provide a concise overview of why you are an excellent fit for the role.

Body Paragraphs

  1. Education and Skills: Emphasize your educational background and relevant coursework or projects. Include any honors or awards.
  2. Experience: Describe your internships, part-time jobs, or volunteer work. Highlight the skills you acquired and their relevance to the job.
  3. Achievements and Results: Give specific examples of your accomplishments that showcase your abilities.
  4. Company Fit: Demonstrate that you have researched the company and explain why you want to work there. Connect your goals and values with the company's mission and culture.


  1. Reiterate Interest: Summarize your enthusiasm for the position and the organization.
  2. Call to Action: Politely ask for an interview or meeting to discuss your application further.
  3. Thank You: Thank them for their time and consideration.
  4. Formal Closing: End with a professional closing such as "Sincerely" or "Best regards," followed by your name.

How to write a cover letter as a graduate with no experience

Writing a cover letter as a recent graduate with no experience can be challenging, but it’s possible! Let’s break down the process step by step;

Research the Job Posting and Company

  1. Review the job posting to understand the specific skills and qualifications the employer is looking for.
  2. Research the company’s website to learn more about its values, mission, and culture.

Header and Contact Information: List your contact information at the top of the cover letter. 

Salutation: Start with an appropriate salutation. If you know the hiring manager’s name, use it (e.g., “Dear Ms. Smith”). If not, a general “Dear Hiring Manager” works.

Opening Paragraph:

  1. Introduce yourself. Mention that you’re a recent graduate and express your interest in the position.
  2. Highlight any relevant coursework, projects, or extracurricular activities related to the role.

Middle Paragraphs

  1. Focus on your transferable skills and soft skills. Even without work experience, you likely have skills gained from volunteering, internships, or coursework.
  2. Explain how these skills make you a good fit for the position. Use specific examples to demonstrate your abilities.

Show Your Enthusiasm

  1. Express your passion for learning and growing in the role. Emphasize your willingness to learn new skills and contribute to the company.
  2. Bring up any related certifications or online courses you've finished.

Closing Paragraph

  1. Summarize why you’re the best candidate for the job. Reiterate your interest in the position.
  2. Ask for an interview to delve deeper into your qualifications.

Proofread: Before sending, proofread your cover letter for spelling, grammar, and clarity.

What should be included in a college graduate cover letter

A cover letter for a recent college graduate should contain the following elements;

Contact Information: Write your name, mobile number, and email address, and below this, include the date and the employer’s details (name, title, company, and address).

Salutation: Whenever possible, address the letter to a specific person using "Dear [Mr./Ms./Dr.] [Last Name]," or if unknown, use "Dear Hiring Manager," or "To Whom It May Concern,".

Introduction: Begin with a compelling opening that introduces who you are and specifies the job you're applying for. Mention how you found out about the position.

Education: Briefly outline your academic background, including your degree, major, and the institution you attended. Mention any honors or awards.

Relevant Skills and Experience: Highlight the skills and experiences that make you suitable for the job. This can include internships, part-time work, volunteer activities, and relevant coursework. Focus on how these experiences have prepared you for the role.

Key Achievements: Showcase specific accomplishments relevant to the job, using measurable results when possible (e.g., "Increased social media engagement by 30% during my internship").

Company Knowledge: Demonstrate that you have researched the company. Explain why you are interested in working there and how you can contribute to their objectives.

Closing Paragraph: Reaffirm your enthusiasm for the role and the company. Indicate your readiness to discuss your application further and provide your contact information again.

Signature: End with a professional closing like "Sincerely," "Best regards," or "Yours faithfully," followed by your typed name. For hard copies, include your handwritten signature above your typed name.

Enclosures: If including additional documents such as your resume, note this below your signature with "Enclosures: Resume, [Other Documents]".

How do I start a cover letter for a recent college graduate

Starting a cover letter as a recent college graduate can be challenging, but it’s a perfect chance to highlight your enthusiasm and new knowledge. Here’s a structured approach you can follow;

Address the Letter

  1. Start with a professional salutation.
  2. Use the hiring manager’s name if known (e.g., “Dear Mr. Smith”).
  3. If the name is unknown, use “Dear Hiring Manager”.

Opening Paragraph

  1. State the position you’re applying for and where you found the job listing.
  2. Capture attention with a brief introduction and a high-level overview of your background that aligns with the job.

Educational Experience

  1. Highlight your recent educational achievements relevant to the position.
  2. Mention specific courses, projects, or research that have prepared you for the role.

Skills and Internships

  1. Discuss the skills developed through your education and any internships or part-time work.
  2. Emphasize how these skills make you a suitable fit for the job.

Enthusiasm and Fit

  1. Explain why you’re excited about the opportunity and how you see yourself fitting into the organization.


  1. End with a strong closing statement.
  2. Reiterate your interest in the position and the value you’d bring.
  3. Politely request an interview and mention that you will follow up within a week if you haven’t heard back.

What is the best format for a recent college graduate cover letter

The best format for a recent college graduate's cover letter is a professional business letter format that emphasizes clarity and conciseness. Here's a breakdown;

Contact Information: Include your full name, phone number, professional email address, and LinkedIn profile URL (optional) at the top left corner.

Date: Align the date to the right corner of the cover letter.

Hiring Manager Information: Address the cover letter to the hiring manager by name and title (e.g., "Dear Ms. Smith"). 

Company Information: Include the company name and full address on the next line.

Salutation: Use a professional salutation like "Dear [Hiring Manager name]," or "Dear Hiring Manager," on the next line.

Introduction Paragraph (1-2 sentences)

  1. State the specific job title and company you're applying to.
  2. Express your enthusiasm for the opportunity.
  3. Mention a relevant achievement or project that showcases your fit for the role.

Body Paragraphs (2-3 paragraphs)

  1. Highlight your academic background: Briefly mention your degree, relevant coursework, and academic achievements (awards, scholarships).
  2. Focus on transferable skills: Showcase skills gained through coursework, projects, internships, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities. Emphasize communication, teamwork, problem-solving, time management, or technical skills relevant to the job.
  3. Quantify achievements: Mention any leadership roles or successful outcomes of projects (e.g., team project size and results).
  4. Address lack of formal work experience positively: Emphasize eagerness to learn, quick learning ability, and willingness to contribute fresh perspectives.

Closing Paragraph (1-2 sentences)

  1. Express enthusiasm for an interview to discuss your qualifications further.

Signature: Include your typed name followed by your handwritten signature

How long should a cover letter be for a recent college graduate

A cover letter for a recent college graduate should typically be one page in length. This ensures that the letter is concise and focused, providing enough information to highlight your qualifications without overwhelming the reader. Here are some guidelines for achieving this length;

Introduction: Introduce yourself and specify the position you're seeking.


  1. Paragraph 1: Highlight your academic background, including your degree, major, and any relevant coursework or academic achievements.
  2. Paragraph 2: Discuss your relevant skills and experiences gained through internships, part-time jobs, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities. Highlight how these experiences have qualified you for this position. 
  3. Paragraph 3: Showcase your enthusiasm for the company and the position, explaining why you are interested in this opportunity and how you can contribute to the organization.

Closing: Reiterate your interest in the position, express your desire for an interview, and thank the hiring manager for their time and consideration.

What are common mistakes to avoid in a college graduate cover letter

When drafting a cover letter as a recent college graduate, making a positive impression is essential by steering clear of common mistakes. Here are some pitfalls to avoid;

  1. Generic Content: Avoid using a generic cover letter. Tailor every cover letter to the particular position and organization. 
  2. Lack of Focus: Exclude irrelevant details. Concentrate on experiences and skills that are directly related to the job you’re applying for.
  3. Repetition of Resume: Avoid merely repeating your resume. Use the cover letter to provide additional context and highlight key accomplishments.
  4. Vague Language: Refrain from using vague statements. Be specific about your skills and experiences, and explain why they make you a suitable candidate for the position.
  5. Neglecting to Highlight Achievements: Don't just list duties from previous roles or academic experiences. Emphasize your achievements and the impact you had.
  6. Poor Formatting: Ensure your cover letter is well-formatted with a professional font, consistent margins, and a clean layout.
  7. Spelling and Grammar Errors: Proofread your cover letter multiple times to avoid typos and grammatical mistakes. Use tools like Grammarly and have someone else review it.
  8. Overly Formal or Informal Tone: Maintain a balanced tone. Be professional but also personable and enthusiastic.
  9. Failing to Address the Hiring Manager: Always try to address your cover letter to a specific person. If you can't find a name, use "Dear Hiring Manager" rather than a generic salutation like "To Whom It May Concern."
  10. Ignoring Company Research: Demonstrate that you’ve researched the company. Mention specific details and explain why you're excited about the opportunity to work there.
  11. Exceeding One Page: Keep your cover letter concise and to the point, ensuring it does not exceed one page.
  12. Lack of Confidence: Avoid underselling yourself. Be confident about your skills and how you can contribute to the company.
  13. Not Following Application Instructions: Adhere to any specific instructions provided in the job posting regarding cover letter format, content, or submission method.
  14. Weak Closing: Don’t end on a passive note. Reiterate your interest in the position, express enthusiasm for an interview, and thank the reader for their time.

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How can I make my cover letter stand out as a new graduate

To make your cover letter stand out as a new graduate, focus on showcasing your unique strengths, relevant experiences, and genuine enthusiasm for the position. Here are some tips;

Personalize Each Letter: Customize your cover letter to match the particular job and company. Mention the company’s name and the role you’re applying for, and address the hiring manager by name.

Start with a Strong Opening: Begin with a compelling introduction that grabs attention. Highlight a relevant achievement or share a brief story that demonstrates your passion and suitability for the role.

Highlight Relevant Experiences: Emphasize experiences that directly relate to the job. This could include coursework, projects, internships, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities. Show how these experiences have equipped you with the skills needed for the position.

Showcase Achievements: Highlight specific accomplishments using quantifiable metrics.

Demonstrate Soft Skills: Showcase your soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership. Discuss instances where you've showcased these skills in different scenarios.

Express Enthusiasm for the Role and Company: Convey genuine enthusiasm for the position and the company. Explain why you’re excited about the opportunity and how you align with the company’s values and goals.

Research the Company: Show that you’ve done your homework by mentioning specific details about the company. Discuss how you can contribute to their mission or projects.

Keep It Concise and Focused: Ensure your cover letter is concise, clear, and to the point. Avoid unnecessary details and stay focused on what makes you the best fit for the role.

Use a Professional Tone: Maintain a professional yet personable tone throughout your letter. Be confident but not arrogant, and show enthusiasm without being overly casual.

Proofread and Edit: Proofread your cover letter to avoid typos and grammatical errors. Consider having someone else review it for feedback.

Should I mention my GPA in a recent graduate cover letter

Whether to include your GPA in a recent graduate cover letter depends on various factors. Consider the following guidelines;

Mention your GPA if

  1. It Is Strong: If your GPA is 3.5 or above, it reflects positively on your academic abilities and work ethic, enhancing your application.
  2. The Job or Industry Values Academic Performance: In sectors like finance, consulting, engineering, or academia, a high GPA is often crucial. Highlighting it demonstrates you meet the industry’s high standards.
  3. You Lack Extensive Work Experience: If you don’t have much relevant work experience, a high GPA can showcase your dedication and capability.

Do Not Mention Your GPA if

  1. It Is Average or Below: If your GPA is under 3.5, it’s better to focus on other strengths like relevant skills, experiences, or projects.
  2. You Have Significant Relevant Experience: If you possess substantial work experience, internships, or other notable achievements, these should be prioritized over your GPA.
  3. The Job Description Doesn’t Emphasize Academic Performance: If the job posting doesn’t specifically request your GPA or stress academic credentials, it’s preferable to omit it.

How do I tailor a cover letter for different job applications as a college graduate

To tailor a cover letter for different job applications as a college graduate, follow these steps;

  1. Research the Company and Job Role: Understand the company’s mission, values, culture, and recent news. Study the job description to grasp the required skills and qualifications.
  2. Customize the Salutation: Address the hiring manager by name. Use “Dear [Mr./Ms./Dr.] [Last Name],” or if the name is not available, use “Dear Hiring Manager.”
  3. Create a Unique Opening Paragraph: Mention the specific job title and company name. Explain your excitement for the role and how you discovered the job opening.
  4. Highlight Relevant Academic Background: Emphasize educational aspects that are related to the job. Include specific courses, projects, or academic achievements that align with the job requirements.
  5. Emphasize Related Experience and Skills: Showcase experiences directly related to the job, such as internships, part-time jobs, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities. Match your skills to those listed in the job description.
  6. Showcase Knowledge of the Company: Demonstrate your research on the company by mentioning details about its operations, culture, or recent achievements. Describe your motivation for wanting to work there and outline how you can contribute to their objectives.
  7. Tailor Key Achievements and Examples: Provide relevant examples and achievements for the job you’re applying for. Use metrics or specific results to quantify your accomplishments.
  8. Adjust the Tone and Style: Match the cover letter’s tone to the company’s culture. For instance, a tech startup may appreciate a casual, enthusiastic tone, whereas a financial firm might prefer a formal and polished approach.
  9. Include a Strong Closing Paragraph: Reiterate your interest in the position and the company. Mention that your resume and any other requested documents are attached. Express enthusiasm for an interview and provide your contact information.
  10. Proofread and Edit: Review your cover letter and ensure there are no grammatical mistakes. Make sure all company names, job titles, and other specific details are correct for each application.

How do I highlight my skills in a recent graduate cover letter

To highlight your skills in a recent graduate cover letter, follow these steps;

  1. Identify Key Skills: Examine the job description to pinpoint the essential skills required for the position. Focus on the ones that align with your abilities and experiences.
  2. Create a Skills Summary: Outline your top relevant skills in a dedicated section of your cover letter. This allows the hiring manager to quickly recognize your strengths.
  3. Use Specific Examples: Illustrate how you have applied these skills in real-world scenarios, such as internships, projects, part-time jobs, volunteer work, or academic achievements.
  4. Quantify Achievements: Use numbers to quantify your accomplishments. This makes your achievements more concrete and impressive.
  5. Align Skills with Job Requirements: Customize your cover letter to match your skills with the specific requirements of the job. Demonstrate how your background directly relates to the role.

How do I explain my lack of experience in a cover letter as a recent graduate

Explaining your lack of experience in a cover letter as a recent graduate requires tact and a focus on your strengths. Here's how to approach it;

  1. Acknowledge Your Situation: Begin by acknowledging your limited professional experience. You can briefly mention that you are a recent graduate and may not have extensive work experience in the field.
  2. Highlight Transferable Skills: Emphasize the skills and knowledge you gained through your education, internships, coursework, projects, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities. 
  3. Showcase Academic Achievements: Highlight any academic achievements, such as awards, scholarships, high GPA, or relevant coursework, that demonstrate your dedication, intelligence, and ability to excel in academic settings.
  4. Provide Relevant Examples: Offer specific examples of how you have successfully applied your skills or knowledge in practical situations, even if they are not traditional work experiences. This could include class projects, research papers, leadership roles in student organizations, or volunteer work.
  5. Express Eagerness to Learn and Grow: Demonstrate your enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Express your excitement about the opportunity to gain practical experience, develop new skills, and contribute to the organization's success.
  6. Connect with Company Culture and Values: Show that you have researched the company and understand its culture, values, and goals. Explain why you are specifically interested in working for this organization and how you can contribute to its mission.
  7. Focus on Potential and Long-Term Growth: Highlight your potential for growth and your long-term commitment to building a successful career in the industry. Mention any career development goals or aspirations you have and how this position aligns with them.
  8. Conclude with Confidence and Enthusiasm: End your cover letter with a strong closing statement expressing your confidence in your ability to excel in the role and your eagerness to contribute to the company's success. Thank the hiring manager for considering your application and express your enthusiasm for the opportunity to interview.

How do I write a cover letter for an internship as a recent college graduate

Crafting a cover letter for an internship as a recent college graduate involves emphasizing your pertinent skills, experiences, and eagerness for learning. Here's how to create an impactful cover letter:

Introduction: Commence with a formal salutation, ideally addressing the hiring manager by name. Introduce yourself as a recent graduate and convey your interest in the internship role.

Educational Background: Outline your degree, major, and alma mater. Highlight any applicable coursework, academic projects, or accomplishments that underscore your suitability for the internship.

Relevant Skills and Experiences: Delve into the skills and experiences acquired through internships, part-time roles, volunteer engagements, coursework, or extracurricular pursuits. Concentrate on those directly pertinent to the internship position you're pursuing.

Passion and Enthusiasm: Articulate your enthusiasm for the industry or field and your keenness to acquire practical experience through the internship. Share specific motivations for your interest in the company and how the internship aligns with your career aspirations.

Demonstrate Fit: Demonstrate your grasp of the company's mission, values, and initiatives. Elucidate how your skill set and experiences render you a suitable match for the internship role and how you can contribute to the company's objectives.

Personalize and Customize: Tailor your cover letter to each internship opportunity by researching the company and the internship position. Reference specific projects, initiatives, or aspects of the company that resonate with you.

Closing: Conclude your cover letter with a robust closing statement, expressing appreciation for the opportunity to apply and your enthusiasm for the internship. Encourage the hiring manager to reach out for further discussion and provide your contact details.

Proofread and Edit: Before dispatching your cover letter, meticulously review it for any grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors. Ensure it's well-structured, succinct, and tailored to the specifics of the internship opportunity.

Should I include my college extracurricular activities in my cover letter

Including college extracurricular activities in your cover letter can be beneficial if they demonstrate relevant skills, experiences, or qualities that align with the internship or job you're applying for. Here's when to consider including them;

  1. Relevance to the Position: If your extracurricular activities showcase skills or experiences that are directly relevant to the internship or job, they can strengthen your candidacy. For example, leadership roles in student organizations can demonstrate your ability to manage teams and projects, while participation in volunteer activities might highlight your commitment to community engagement.
  2. Demonstration of Transferable Skills: Extracurricular activities can also illustrate transferable skills such as teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and time management. If you've developed these skills through your involvement in clubs, sports teams, or volunteer work, it's worth mentioning them in your cover letter.
  3. Demonstration of Personal Qualities: Some extracurricular activities may also demonstrate personal qualities that employers value, such as leadership, initiative, creativity, or resilience. If you can tie these qualities to the requirements of the internship or job, they can enhance your application.
  4. Space and Relevance: However, if your extracurricular activities are not directly relevant to the position or if you have limited space in your cover letter, it may be better to focus on highlighting other experiences or qualifications that are more closely aligned with the job requirements.

List keywords in a cover letter as a new college graduate

Here are some keywords and phrases that can be valuable to include in a cover letter as a new college graduate;

  1. Recent graduate
  2. Bachelor's degree
  3. Major
  4. University Name
  5. Academic achievements
  6. Relevant coursework
  7. Internship experience
  8. Part-time jobs
  9. Volunteer work
  10. Leadership roles
  11. Teamwork
  12. Communication skills
  13. Problem-solving abilities
  14. Time management skills
  15. Adaptability
  16. Flexibility
  17. Eagerness to learn
  18. Enthusiasm
  19. Industry knowledge
  20. Career goals

How can I demonstrate enthusiasm in my cover letter as a recent graduate

Demonstrating enthusiasm in your cover letter as a recent graduate can significantly enhance your application. Here's how you can convey your enthusiasm;

  1. Express Genuine Interest: Start your cover letter with a genuine expression of interest in the company and the position you're applying for. Mention what specifically excites you about the opportunity and why you're passionate about it.
  2. Showcase Knowledge: Demonstrate your enthusiasm by showcasing your knowledge about the company. Discuss specific projects, initiatives, or achievements of the company that resonate with you. This shows that you've done your research and are genuinely interested in becoming a part of the organization.
  3. Highlight Alignment: Emphasize how the company's mission, values, and goals align with your own. Explain why you believe you're a good fit for the company culture and how you can contribute to its success.
  4. Share Relevant Experiences: Share examples of experiences or projects that have fueled your enthusiasm for the field or industry. Discuss how these experiences have shaped your career aspirations and motivated you to pursue this opportunity.
  5. Be Specific: Use specific language and examples to convey your enthusiasm. Instead of generic statements, provide concrete reasons why you're excited about the role and how you can make a meaningful impact.
  6. Optimistic Tone: Maintain an optimistic tone throughout your cover letter. Show your eagerness to learn, grow, and contribute to the company in a constructive manner.
  7. Conclude with Enthusiasm: End your cover letter on a strong note by reiterating your enthusiasm for the position and expressing your excitement about the opportunity to join the team. Thank the hiring manager for considering your application and convey your readiness to discuss further.

How do I follow up after sending a college graduate cover letter

Following up after sending a college graduate cover letter can demonstrate your enthusiasm and proactive attitude. Here's how to do it;

  1. Wait for a Suitable Period: Allow the employer time to review your application, typically 1-2 weeks after sending your cover letter.
  2. Identify the Correct Contact: Seek out the contact details of the hiring manager or recruiter, available on the company's website or platforms like LinkedIn.
  3. Compose a Polite Email: Craft a concise and professional email to follow up on your application. Begin with a courteous greeting, mention the position applied for, and reaffirm your interest in both the role and the company.
  4. Reaffirm Your Credentials: Emphasize your qualifications once more, underlining why you're a fitting candidate for the position.
  5. Seek an Update: Politely inquire about the status of your application and if there's any additional information required from your end.
  6. Express Gratitude: Extend thanks to the employer for considering your application and for the time invested.
  7. Keep it Brief: Ensure your follow-up email remains succinct and to the point, respecting the busy schedules of hiring managers.
  8. Consider a Second Follow-Up: If there's no response after your initial follow-up, consider sending another polite email after a week or two. If still no response, it's advisable to shift focus to other opportunities.
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