While there is no doubt that a sparkling resume can help in your job search, too many students overlook the need for an equally sparkling cover letter. An excellent cover letter can distinguish your application from others; your skills and qualifications may be similar to other people, but the content of your letter should be unique to you.
Your cover letter should complement, not duplicate, the contents of your resume. Clear, concise, grammatically correct, and error-free, the purpose of your cover letter is to put a human face on your factual resume. A well crafted letter allows you to add a personal touch and enables you to expand on how your skills/experience can benefit the particular needs of the business. Your cover letter is often your first opportunity to create that critical first impression, so here are a few tips…
- Do your research – Make sure you research the company, your target position, and the wider industry to make your letter current, relevant and engaging. By demonstrating that you’ve researched the company, you demonstrated that a) your interest is real, and b) that you are resourceful and determined.
- Be relevant and engaging… – Effective cover letters explain the reasons for your interest in the specific organization and highlight how your most relevant skills or experiences could benefit the business. Show you are qualified and why you should be selected for an interview.
- Dear Dr. Jones – Wherever possible address the letter to a name, and use that name in the salutation. Avoid going with Dear Sir or Madam, To Whom It May Concern, etc. If you’ve not been able to make personal contact prior to submitting your resume and letter, or if you’re replying to an ad and have no way to learn it, consider going without the salutation and changing the subject line. The more you know about the person who’ll read the letter the better.
- As requested/Further to our conversation… – If the intended recipient suggested that you submit your resume, or if you’ve recently spoken, make that clear up front in your cover letter. By showing that the resume was requested, you may be able to bypass the pre-screening process and find yourself in the appropriate file that gets passed up the line
- Dr. Smith suggested I contact you… – Similarly, if a friend of a friend, or another third party suggested that you submit your resume to the reader, mention that at the start of your cover letter.
- I look forward to hearing from you Dr. Jones… – Toward the end of the letter, consider repeating the intended recipient’s name to convey friendliness and add a personal touch.
- Avoid creating junk mail… What do you do with junk mail? Trash it! So don’t design a standard form letter and mail it out to every potential employer. The lack of personalization and relevant company specific insight will not help you stand out, and your effort will likely end up as trash.
Make Use of Career Services
Your campus Career Services department can help you with cover letter creation, resume writing, interview techniques, job search strategies and more. For more information contact the Career Services department at your campus, or call 1.877.206.2106