Professional Development Tips: Cover Letters

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Professional Development Tips: Cover Letters
September 27, 2018 by Joe Walters

Introduction

Your resume is now updated and you are searching company websites, LinkedIn, and Google for your dream job/internship. You find that ideal job/internship for yourself, but as you are applying you notice that a cover letter is required. A cover letter!? Does it truly matter, even if it is not required? Where do I even start when it comes to writing one?

Take a deep breath, all of these concerns will be answered shortly.

Why does a Cover Letter Matter?

A cover letter may feel tedious or even pointless but a cover letter that is strategically targeted towards the company and job you are applying for could be the difference between an interview and the generic email with “thanks for your interest, but you were not selected to move on.” A well-crafted cover letter should focus in on the job you are applying for and the employer so that your resume can highlight your skills, qualities, and experiences. Your resume does not need to be tweaked for each job but your cover letter should be customized for each job you are applying for. Ultimately, the main reason why this letter matters is because it is customizable and gives you the opportunity to let the recruiter hear your voice and reasoning as to why you are the ideal fit at that company and for that position.

Create a Skeleton for your Cover Letters

Next, let’s take a look at how you should craft your cover letter. There are multiple formats for a cover letter and one way is not necessarily better than the others. However, when you are a senior in college and you are applying to many different jobs at various companies, it is best to create a skeleton for your cover letter. This way, you only need to change a few specific details in its content rather than rewriting each one from scratch.

Break your cover letter down into four different paragraphs. The first paragraph should be quick, highlighting why you are applying to that job at that company. The second paragraph should dive into who you are from an academic and professional standpoint. It should explain what isn’t included on your resume while highlighting achievements that fit the job you are applying for or the culture of the company. The third paragraph looks into your past work experiences. Again, state what your resume does not. Describe what was important and the lessons you learned in previous roles or situations. Finally, tie it all back together with a brief conclusion paragraph stating what you desire in this job and career path.

Remember, a cover letter should show off your voice and it is an opportunity to highlight your achievements and interest in the specific job in ways your resume cannot.

Additional Tips

Here are just a few additional tips for any cover letter:

  • If you know the name of the individual who will read your cover letter, then address it to that person directly.
  • Research the company to which you are applying; find the buzzwords, values, and any other lingo that they like to use then add them in your cover letter.
  • A cover letter should be only one page long at maximum.
  • Be sure to proofread your cover letter, it is one page so it should be flawless!

Writing a cover letter doesn’t have to be so bad and it is to your full advantage to write one when it is requested. Now get to writing and good luck!

Looking for resume tips? Check out our last professional development blog post.

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