Cover Letter “How-To”

Cover Letter OopsWhat is a “Cover Letter” anyway, and why do I need one?

A cover letter is an introduction that is sent along with your resume that provides additional information about you and your qualifications, and how those items match what the employer is looking for, per the job description.  Essentially, it should tell the employer why they should hire you, and in order to accomplish that, it must catch the reader’s attention.  Furthermore, by submitting a cover letter along with your resume, you will increase your odds of catching the employer’s attention.  Additionally, the cover letter is an excellent opportunity for you to demonstrate your written communication skills (so make sure you spell-check and have someone proof-read it for you!).

How do I write an effective Cover Letter?

In order to write an effective and attention-grabbing cover letter, you must first develop content.  In order to do this, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Why did I decide to become a (fill-in-the-blank with your specific program, i.e. Medical Assistant)?
  2. What do I like best about being a Medical Assistant?
  3. What am I really good at? (Think about the specific skills you have learned in your program-these are known as “Hard Skills”)
  4. What are my interpersonal skills? (These are also known as “Soft Skills” and include things such as good communication skills, integrity, timeliness, sense of humor, etc)
  5. How do my skills meet the requirements of the job I am applying for? (Pay close attention to key words that are repeated in the job ad, and incorporate them into your cover letter)
  6. What is important to the employer? (Spend some time reviewing the company website, paying special attention to the “About Us”, “Mission Statement”, and “Values”)
  7. What else do I want the employer to know about me? (Did you graduate with honors or perfect attendance?  Have you received any certifications or awards?)

A cover letter is typically made up of 3 paragraphs…the 1st introduces yourself, and your interest in the position (if possible, include the name of who referred you or where you saw the job ad).  The 2nd paragraph is where you talk about your skills and qualifications (incorporating the content you developed from the 7 questions you just answered).  The 3rd paragraph is where you reiterate your interest, ask for an interview to further discuss your qualifications, and give the potential employer information on how best to reach you.  Also, don’t forget to close by thanking them in advance for their time and consideration!

Make sure you sign your cover letter, and save a copy for future use (just be sure to edit it appropriately for other jobs…i.e. make sure that you change pertinent information, such as to whom you are addressing the letter).