Before you begin to draft a cover letter for a job you are interested in applying for, print out a copy of your CV or resume, as well as a copy of the job description. Having both documents available will assist you in drafting a persuasive letter, regardless of the type of job you are applying for.
Start by reading through the job description several times, highlighting particular skill sets, key phrases, or responsibilities that you think are critical for success on the job. Then turn to your resume or CV and highlight those experiences or credentials you have amassed that match these skills. Use descriptions of these experiences in the body of your letter, mentioning their relevance to the job at hand.
This kind of focus will indicate to the employer that you are serious about the position available and represent a candidate worthy of an interview.
Melanie Sinche is an educator, writer, and career counselor with more than 15 years experience working with and advising graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in university, non-profit, and government agency settings. Her work at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine focuses on the career and professional development of all trainees through the development of novel educational programming. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melaniesinche.