How to write a cover letter as an international student

People say cover letters are a thing in the past. We don’t think so. If you are not familiar with cover letters, let us show you why it can be a great weapon for international students like us. 

What is a cover letter?

Cover letter is a one-page motivational letter, highlighting why you are a good fit for the role you are applying for. It is not a duplication of your resume. 

Why do you need it?

Even though it might not be as essential as your resume, it can help you demonstrate how you might be the best candidate for the job and paint the bridge between your skills and the employer’s requirements. If you see it in the right light, it is your first communication directly with the hiring manager and can be used to break some ice before your interview.

Cover letter basics

  • So let’s get one thing very clear, your cover letter should be an EXTENSION of your resume and not a REPETITION of your resume. What they are looking for in a cover letter is an introduction of who you are and also a brief summary of your experiences. So you want to use this letter to spark the HR manager’s interest. 
  • Length: As a perfect resume is one page long, the cover letter is no exception. A good cover letter should be from 250 to 400 words long
  • Paragraphs: Ideally there should be three paragraphs – introduction, main paragraphs with skill set/ experience, closing paragraph with call of action.
  • Tone: When researching about the job and the company you want to apply for, learn more about the company’s culture and the hiring manager’ background. This will help you set a tone (formal or semi-formal) when writing the letter.

What if I don’t have any experience?

If you don’t have any professional experience or less than a year of experience, deep dive into your group projects, extracurricular activities or passion projects where you showed leadership, team management or technical skills required in your targeted position. This is a very useful experience which you can use to translate your skills to the hiring manager.

What if my experience is from my home country?

Then you have even more reasons to write a cover letter! Use a cover letter to highlight transferable skills and show your accomplishments to convince that although your experience is not from Canada but the skills demonstrated and technology used are still very much transferable. 

Isempower is here to help. Download a free cover letter template designed for international job seekers like yourself! Visit our Resources page.