So, you have decided that you are going to apply for your dream position. You have sat down and beautifully crafted your resume and are now beginning to work on your cover letter. You have written Dear Mr. Smith, and find yourself stuck with what to say. If this sounds like you, you should consider these easy steps for writing great cover letters.
Step 1: Introduce yourself
– In your introductory paragraph you should tell the reader who you are (e.g. class year and where you go to school, your ties to the geographic area where you applying, if any, and your connection to the employer or the individual whom you are sending the letter)
– You should also tell them WHY you are writing, such as how you learned about the position or that someone they know (be sure and insert that person’s name) has told you to contact them.
Step 2: Express interest in the job
– You need to let the employer know that you are not just interested in this position because you need a job and any old job will do. You need to articulate to the potential employer specifically why you are interested in this position.
Step 3: Demonstrate how hiring you will be beneficial to the employer
– You should prove that you are the best candidate for the position with sold facts that you can back up. You should tailor each cover letter the needs of the employer and focus on the qualities that you possess that make you uniquely qualified for the position. The best way to articulate these facts are through relevant experiences you have had, but make sure that you are not simply restating your resume.
– Be positive and confident, don’t discuss your weaknesses or lack of qualifications and avoid using phrases such as “I believe” or “I think” as these words qualify your statements.
Step 4: Ask for an interview
– In your closing paragraph you must make sure that you let the potential employer know that you want to discuss the position with them. You will need to tell the employer how you can best be reached. If you are applying to an employer that is out of town and you are planning a visit there, you should provide them dates you would be available to meet.
– Remember, if you put in your cover letter that you look forward to hearing from them, you are foreclosing the ability to initiate follow up, which you do not want to do.
Step 5: EDIT, EDIT, EDIT!
– You should have multiple people proofreading and editing your cover letter before you send it out to any employers (including us in the CDO). Make changes based on the comments and proofread each revision. While everyone makes mistakes, the one overarching quality employers are looking for is attention to detail, and a typo in your cover letter (a document you should be taking very seriously) would indicate that is a quality you do not possess.