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Many employers require applicants to include a cover letter along with a resume when applying for a job. Cover letters are a great opportunity to add a personal touch to your list of accomplishments and past experiences when applying to a job. A cover letter gives you the chance to tell the employer why you’d be the best for the job. It lets you better explain things that appear on your resume. Each position you apply for will need its own specific cover letter, here are the steps to crafting a strong cover letter.
At the top of the cover letter, you’ll need to include the employer’s name, position, and business address. A great place to locate this information is on the company’s website or the employer’s LinkedIn page. Be absolutely sure you spelled the name correctly, otherwise you could find your letter AND resume in the trash.
Don’t get fancy with your fonts. This is a formal letter that needs to be easy to read. For consistency, match your font with the one you used for your resume. Times New Roman is commonly used for documents such as these.
If you’re not sure which title to use (Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss) when addressing the employer, try looking up their name on Google, LinkedIn, or a company website. If you’re still unsure, you can simply call the business and ask. Yes, it may be awkward, but you don’t want to use the wrong title for a formal cover letter.
Formally introduce yourself by stating your first and last name, as well as the position you are interested in. Mention where you learned about the opportunity, whether it was an online job posting on your school’s career site or a personal connection.
Reference the company’s mission statement or values and relate it to your own beliefs and passions. Not only does this show you are aligned with their corporate culture, it also demonstrates that you’ve done your research.
Compliment a project or campaign that you’ve seen from the company and briefly talk about what interested you about it. You could even take this opportunity to relate it to a personal project or campaign that you’ve completed in the past, showing that you have the capabilities to fit right in.
After you’ve introduced yourself and noted your desired position, talk about how you can add value to the company. Provide an example of an accomplishment that added value to demonstrate your skills! This will grab the employer’s attention and set you apart from other applicants who may not have provided an example right away.
Provide your general availability for an interview and tell them you’ll follow up in about a week if you haven’t already heard back from them. Provide the best contact information for the employer to contact you, including a primary phone number and your email address. Note that if you’re sending out cover letters and resumes after graduation, your school email will expire after a few weeks/months. If you’re worried that this may occur, provide your personal email address.
Thank the employer for their consideration and mention that you’re looking forward to hearing back soon. Sign off with a “Best, [your first/last name].” As a general rule, you want to keep your cover letter brief. One page maximum, and 2-3 paragraphs (be sure to check if the employer has any specific requirements). Like with resumes, recruiters or employers don’t have a ton of time to read through all of the information. Be descriptive, but concise.
Any spelling/grammar errors could result in your cover letter AND resume being tossed in the trash. Have a parent, friend, professor, or your school’s career center review your cover letter to prevent any mistakes. If you are planning to visit the career center, keep in mind their busy schedules and bring both your cover letter and resume for review. You may not be able to find another opening in the schedule to make separate appointments.