The Cover Letter
Most employers will ask you to submit a cover letter along with your resume. A good cover letter creates an impression of your ability to communicate, a skill that is sought by nearly all employers. You should spend time crafting a letter that will make an employer take notice.
Here are some general rules:
- Write to a person and not "To Whom it May Concern." It is worth a phone call to learn the name of the manager'of the department in which you are interested. Avoid the personnel office if possible. If you have to, write "Dear Hiring Committee" or "Dear Selection Commmittee."
- Be original and keep it brief. The usual length is three or four paragraphs. Be sure that spelling, punctuation and grammar are correct. Have it proofread by more than one person.
- Address the skills you have. Don't assume an employer can make correlations between your major and your job target. Call attention to significant accomplishments on your resume, but vary the wording. Address the stronger skills you developed, and don't apologize for areas that you perceive are shortcomings. Stress the positive; omit the negative!
- Spend time learning about the company. Show how the information that you learned has spurred your interest. Tailor your cover letter to the specific company and/or position.
- Follow-up each letter with a phone call. This might seem pushy, but follow-up is critical. It shows initiative and lets you know early on where you stand in the process. Nothing is more frustrating than playing the waiting game. However, even if you sometimes feel like you're playing phone tag you should be persistent.
Example: Cover Letter
Dear Contact person (no first names!):
Tell why you are writing; be specific about the position you are applying for.
Give information to show your specific interest in the organization.
Mention the name of the person (if any) who referred you to the position or organization, or state how you learned of the position.
State your knowledge of the skills required in the position
Expand on your background to show why you should be considered.
Refer the reader to your qualifications on your resume or other materials.
Try to make as many connections between your background and the job as possible.
Reiterate your interest in the position and your hopes to be a member of the team. Be sure to include your email and a telephone number where you can be reached at the employer's convenience.
If you indicate that you plan to follow up by phone, be sure that you do.
Refer to any documents enclosed or attached such as your resume, references, etc.
Your name typed or drop in your signature via JPEG image file.
Enclosures or Attachments: list those items enclosed or attached (e.g., resume, reference letters)
Get your cover letter edited.
After you have drafted your cover letter, make an appointment with a Career Services advisor who will provide feedback and suggestions. Remember, your resume and cover letter are your foot in the door and you need to be sure these documents are error free and best reflect you and your skills.