How to Write a Dynamic Cover Letter (A Career Services Center Guest Post) -->

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How to Write a Dynamic Cover Letter (A Career Services Center Guest Post)

As I read last week’s blog post by Amber Cook about engaging your audience through "reading the room," I thought about the one-page cover letter, a document that we often don’t think about in academia. You put so much effort into writing academic papers; how do you make the shift to writing a one-page cover letter that engages your audience--the hiring manager? 

How  to Write a Dynamic Cover Letter | Walden University Writing Center Blog

Start by putting yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager

Imagine yourself as a hiring manager. Your goal is to hire the strongest candidate with the best skills, abilities, talent, and personality to solve specific problems. You have a stack of 50 applications to go through to fill an open position. You only have about 15 seconds to glance at each resume and cover letter and search for key qualifications. It is a process of elimination. 

How to Write a Dynamic Cover Letter | Walden University Writing Center

From the 50 applications, you determine that 25 are qualified, but you are only going to invite six candidates for an interview. How do you narrow your pool down to six? You are tired of seeing generic cover letters with over-used phrases such as “hard worker,” “proven ability,” “team player,”  “excellent communication skills,” and “track record of success” with no evidence of why these statements are true, so you eliminate those applications. You are also tired of reading unorganized paragraphs and seeing spelling and grammatical errors, so applications with those are out, too.

Proofread your resume and cover letter! | Walden University Writing Center

You are finally down to six candidates to invite for an interview. How did these six candidates craft their cover letters to get your attention?

Here are strategies the candidates followed:

1.    Construct the cover letter as a marketing document tailored to the job description and qualifications. If the qualifications include excellent communication skills, give an example of your excellent communication skills such as, “I rewrote the safety procedures manual and included a hands-on training component for all new hires. The improvements led to a 30% reduction in accidents over a six-month period.”  

2.    Showcase unique skills, abilities, enthusiasm, and education. Don’t only say, “I am a motivated professional.” Almost everyone can say that. Instead, describe what motivates and excites you--for example, “My experience working with individuals with HIV motivated me to pursue my degree in public health so I can contribute to the prevention of HIV.”

3.    Paint a picture; tell a concise story with examples about who you are as a professional and your accomplishments. Use strong results-oriented language.  For example, “In my current role as an administrative assistant, I led a team to streamline the process for tracking employee hours. The new process reduced the tracking time from 40 hours per month to 30 hours. Our results inspired other departments to make similar changes.”

4.    Organize your one-page letter with an introduction, a body, and a closing.

5.    Use the language of your profession and maintain a professional tone.

How  to Write a Dynamic Cover Letter | Walden University Writing Center Blog
"giant stack of resumes" by woodlywonderworks (CC by 2.0)
Imagine your cover letter within these stacks. Make yours stand out with these strategies.
First impressions are important.  A well-written cover letter will showcase your communication skills, professionalism, and accomplishments and will open doors to valuable career opportunities.

For more information on writing cover letters, check out the video and other Career Services Center resources below:

Tips on tailoring your cover letter

Writing Beyond Academia series via the Walden University Writing Center Blog

How does the academic writing you do help you outside of school? Will your writing skills matter in other contexts? When will you use writing after you graduate? These are some of the questions we're covering this month in our Writing Beyond Academia series. If you're just joining us now, check out our latest WriteCast podcast episode on "How Academic Writing Helps You Beyond Academia" and Amber's post on reading the room. 

As always, we welcome your thoughts and questions in the comments. If you have a cover letter success story, we'd love to hear about it!


Denise Pranke
is a career services advisor in Walden's Career Services Center

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  1. I must say that post is very informative.

  2. Great sample! Thank you!

    This is the best guide on how to write a cover letter is this one:, cover letters have become so questionable, so it’s great to have a definitive answer of the when/how to use them.


  4. This is extra-ordinary information. Thanks for sharing mate.

    1. Thanks so much, Aadil! We appreciate the kind words! Glad you enjoyed this post.