Career Advice, Now + Beyond

How to perfect your cover letter for your dream internship

This is the first step to scoring the summer internship of your dreams.

The world of resumes and cover letters are daunting. Especially when you don’t hear anything back from potential employers after you’ve spent so much time writing, editing and tweaking your cover letters and resumes in the hopes that they get noticed.

Your cover letter is the first thing potential employers read. From that information you provide, they either toss aside your resume or want to read it. Apart for having an impressive resume, you need a cover letter that stands out.

Here are some tips to get that cover letter to stand out from the rest.

1. Hit hard with your opening line.

The first few sentences of a cover letter either bore or intrigue your potential employer. Make them stand out. Be impactful, relevant and original with your opening paragraph — if you’ve dreamed about this career since you were a toddler, so has every other applicant.

2. Research the position and company you’re applying for.

You probably have a template for your cover letter and resume, but think of those as a starting place. You absolutely must do some research on the company’s aims and recent developments. It’s essential that you show that you know what the company is looking for. When you know that, you can tailor your application to include relevant examples that make it clear how you’re the right fit for the position.

3. This is no time for modesty.

You’re going to need to butter up the company you’re applying to, but the majority of your application should explain why you’re suited for the position. You want to be remembered from the stack of resumes they have piled high. Talk about your accomplishments, metrics you’ve increased and honors you’ve won. Give examples that demonstrate skills that companies look for, such as leadership or developing successful social campaigns based on web analytics.

Though you may not have all the necessary experience, highlight what you’re good at. Avoid the “I don’t have experience in management,” and instead focus on your skills in communication and your interest in learning about management.

4.  Use people’s names.

When addressing potential employers instead of the “To whom it may concern,” use their names. It suggests research and makes it a more personal interaction rather than the typical cover letter and resume.

But make sure you spell their names right and get their gender right, because that can be a major turnoff. None of that “Dear Mrs. Jones” or “Hi, Miss Latif,” business, either — if she’s female, write for “Ms.” So double- and triple-check that first line before you hit send.

5. End strong, but don’t go overboard.

While some may advise that you state you’re the one for the job, this can be a bit too forward for some employers. Err on the side of caution. What’s better is to briefly reiterate your skills and enthusiasm to work at the company and being hopeful about being in contact soon.