What Should Your Cover Letter Do For You?
It should answer the question - Why should I hire you? It should grab the employers’ attention and point out why you, above all other applicants, should be contacted for a personal interview. The resume should never travel alone. Each time you submit your resume to an employer, you should enclose a cover letter that explains why you are submitting the resume. A cover letter is critical to creating interest in your candidacy, even for an internship or volunteer opportunity. The cover letter is your “sales pitch”. It gives you the opportunity to draw an employer’s attention to the skills and experience outlined in your resume. You can expand on certain courses or job responsibilities that particularly match the position for which to be considered. It also gives you a chance to highlight special achievements that might otherwise go overlooked. In summarizing your qualifications, highlight your most appropriate skills or background in relation to a particular position without simply reiterating the information on your resume. Refer the reader to your enclosed resume for further elaboration your past accomplishments. Be direct and brief. Structure your cover letter with three sections: FIRST PARAGRAPH: This is the "why I'm writing to you" paragraph which immediately tells the employer the position you want to be considered for. This is short - usually 2-3 sentences. Points to cover: Why you are writing and which position you are applying for. How you heard about the position is irrelevant unless it is a mutual contact or recruiting program. Do not write, "I learned of this opportunity through the Career Services Office." Show from your research why you are interested in this position or organization. The goal is to make a connection - do this briefly and specifically or leave it out; sweeping statements will not work. SECOND PARAGRAPH: This is the "why I'm qualified" paragraph. Highlight some of your most relevant experiences and qualities as they relate to the position for which you are applying. Choose 2 - 3 points you want to make about Specific experiences/accomplishments or about general qualities you have exhibited, and provide Specific examples to support those points. This paragraph will change according to the job/employer for which you are applying. This is usually the longest paragraph of the letter. You may break this paragraph into two if it looks too lengthy or if your points work best in separate paragraphs. Points to ponder: The first sentence should be a hard-hitting opener. It is a quick introduction, which is accomplishment-oriented and directed at the skills and qualifications needed for the job/industry. The body of the paragraph should provide evidence to back up what you've just claimed. Cite specific jobs/internships/activities/projects and accomplishments associated with those experiences. Use your resume to come up with some specifics, but NEVER reiterate passages from your resume word for word. Discuss why what you did is to the employer- relate the facts to the job. Strong examples are important! The final sentence is a summary of what you've discussed above. It's a good idea to mention the position title and company name to bring the reader back to the specific job in question.
FINAL PARAGRAPH: This is a short 2-4 sentences paragraph. You should refer to the enclosed resume, request an interview and let the reader know what will happen next (Contact them within specific period of time unless it is a recruiting program). It is vital that you thank the reader for his/her time and consideration.
Cover Letter Rules
1. Address to a specific name and title. If you are uncertain who to address, look in the library reference materials or call the company and ask the receptionist for the appropriate name and title. To gather this information, tell the receptionist; “I am sending some important papers to the head of...