Breathe. Cover letters really aren’t that scary. Start by breaking it down… it’s just a letter. It is an introduction to a potential employer to talk about yourself. A chance to talk about who you are, where you’re from, where you want to go and why that company will help you get there.
It is a less-formal and organized way to talk about yourself than a resume lets you do. Cover letters let you go into detail about the big things that you have accomplished. The biggest advantage of cover letters is that they give you a chance to really talk about your personality and your goals. These are not easily conveyed on a resume.
To make sure your cover letter is formatted correctly, begin by doing a brief introduction of yourself. It is imperative that you find out who the letter should be addressed to – in the world we live in, “To Whom It May Concern” can come off as lazy if you didn’t take the time to research who would read your letter.
My name is ______ and I am a (current student/recent graduate) (studying/with a degree in) _________.
It is simple and to the point, they don’t have to go searching for this information when you present it in the first sentence.
Following that, you should begin by stating why you are applying to their company and for what position. This will show them that you took the time to personalize the cover letter so that it isn’t copy and pasted from other positions you have applied for.
I am interested in _____________ position with ____________ and feel that my skills and experience are a great fit.
That should be your first paragraph. To begin your second paragraph, talk about two or three examples of experiences that you have had that relate to the job that you are applying for. Use the same key words that they use in the job description so it again touches on the fact that you are sending a personalized cover letter.
Within your last two paragraphs you should explain why that company and that position are a good match for you through your personality traits. Talk about what you have to offer that makes you a great candidate.
In the final paragraph, this is where you write your call to action. Let them know when and where is the best place and time to contact you. This means phone number and business appropriate email address – not your middle school AIM screen name. Thank them for their time and express that you are looking forward to hearing back about ______ position. Being specific again about what you are applying for is a great addition.
A cover letter can be a foot in the door if it is written properly. The key is getting someone to read it.