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Designing the Three Paragraph Cover Letter for After-College Success

job search scrabble

The cover letter to your resume.

This has been a controversial topic in the recent years.  Some hiring professionals state that the necessity of a cover letter is highly important, where others state it is a waste of time. Despite these widely-different opinions, it is important to know how to design an optimal cover letter.

A well-designed cover letter should be a tool used to get your foot in the door at your desired career. An attention grabber, if you will. Standing out from the competition can be a life-saver in helping you overcome today’s skills gap issue.

When it comes to resume design, it is important to follow the “Three Paragraph Rule”. Brian Penny put together a fantastic, easy to follow article for Lifehack that outlines this rule. Here are Brian’s guidelines:

Your first paragraph should introduce yourself. State your name. Make sure this paragraph is straight and to the point or the reader will lose interest.  Don’t just list that you have experience in management. Tell them that you manage top teams and get results. Be specific about the results and gear them toward the company. It’s great that you always exceeded your production goals. What did that accomplish? More money for the company? Better quality products? This is your chance to say something great about yourself. Don’t hold back. Here’s mine to give you an idea

Your second paragraph should be five sentences about your career goals and why you want to work for the company. The only 2 things you need to adjust to personalize your cover letter for the position are the header “Dear Mr/Mrs/Dr _____” and the 2nd paragraph. Look up a couple facts about the company and find ways to align your goals with the goals of the company. If you’re applying for a marketing company and you’ve won sales awards, let them know both. It may sound like you’re telling them something they already know, but in doing so, you’re showing them that you did your research. This paragraph is vital in showing the company that you’re not just some desperate job seeker spamming every company you can find. It shows you put in your due diligence and selected them.

Your third paragraph should list you and the company as a team. End the letter by saying that you look forward to learning more about the company (keep It generic so you don’t have to change it each time). You’re excited to work together. Focus on how all of your past accomplishments and future goals are in line with the company’s. Use “we” statements to give the sense that you already feel like you’re working with them. You’re more likely to get a response from someone who sees you as a comrade, brother in arms, etc.”



With these guidelines, you can piece together an incredible resume that will help you land the career of your dreams after college.

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