You need to construct your qualifications to meet the organization's needs!
Because you have between just three and five paragraphs, do not repeat basic information listed on your résumé.
Instead, pinpoint specific listed information, then emphasize and expand on its key points, considering carefully every word and idea you include.
These middle paragraphs should be tailored to the prospective employer’s needs and to the role you would perform in the position you seek, if hired.
Organize the middle paragraphs in terms of the qualifications that best suit you for the job and the organization.
That is, if your on-the-job experience is your strongest qualification, discuss it in detail and show how you can apply it to the needs of the company.
Or, if your college or community extracurricular activities are relevant, use them. For example, if you were President of the Literary Guild and are applying for a position in publishing, elaborate on the valuable experience you gained and how you can put it to work for the company.
If past course work projects apply directly to the job you are seeking, explain them in detail. Be specific. Use numbers, names of equipment you have used, or features of the project that may apply to the job you want.
For academic input, select and specify distinctive accomplishments rather than merely listing courses you have had. Demonstrate what these accomplishments will enable you to do for the prospective company. For personal qualities, emphasize those which apply to professional roles.
[Remember, most hobbies are irrelevant; supporting yourself in college is not!]
One strong qualification, described so that the reader can picture you actively involved on the job, can be enough. You can then refer your reader to your résumé for a summary of your other qualifications.
If you have strength in two or three specific areas, you can develop additional paragraphs. Make your letter strong enough to convince readers that your distinctive background qualifies you for the job -- but not so long that length will turn readers off.
Refer to Your Résumé
Be certain to refer to your having attached or enclosed your résumé at the most appropriate point in your letter. This may be in the discussion of your qualifications or in your closing paragraph.
Conclude With a Clear, Courteous Request For an Interview
The closing paragraph has primarily one function — to ask for an interview. So you must confidently present a procedure for setting up a mutually acceptable interview time. The date and place for the interview should be convenient for you as well as for the interviewer.
It may be quite beneficial to suggest a range of dates and places convenient to you, especially if you travel at your own expense or have a restricted schedule. Be specific on how your reader should get in touch with you - always listing current information.
Mention that you can be reached “at the above address” or “by email at . . . .” If you ask for a phone call, give your phone number (including area code) and days of the week and times you can be reached if you do not have an answering machine available at all times to pick up messages. When relying on an answering machine, always use a professional tone in your message. Also remember to use a professional email address rather than the casual/cutesy addresses used by your friends on a daily basis.