November 30, 2018 - Hellene Meyer
You've seen our posts about resumes, you've seen our posts about job interviews, now it's time to cap everything off and learn about how to write a strong cover letter!
You’ve spent hours and hours fine-tuning your resume. You’ve tailored it exactly to the job-posting and even ran it past several friends to see what they think. Maybe you’ve even visited our drop-in hours. You read the job-posting one last time before sending everything in and realize you forgot all about making a cover letter! A yawning pit opens in your stomach as you realize how out-of-date and all over the place your old cover letter is. Stop! You don’t have to panic. Just follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to writing a strong cover letter!
Details Are Important
Just like your resume, it is important to read through the job-posting and tailor your cover letter to each job. Pick three or four of the most important skill keywords (teamwork, initiative, mentoring, communication, etc.) you have that they are highlighting, and make sure that those skills stand out in your cover letter.
Connect Your Experiences to Their Needs
The second most important thing is to connect your abilities and experiences to those highlighted skills. If they’re looking for teamwork, tell them you’ve got teamwork experience in spades from the time you’ve spent on a sports team or working at a restaurant. Make sure to focus on how you can help them, and not how they can help you! Frame your chosen key skills in a way that explains where you developed them and how you could put them to work for your new employer.
Write Once, Proofread Twice (Or More)
Finally, before your cover letter ever leaves your computer, quadruple-check it for any potential spelling or grammar errors. A cover letter proves to your employer that you can follow instructions, have an eye for detail, and can string a coherent sentence together. Make sure the address is correct, and that the company and the name of the person to whom you’re addressing the letter are both spelled properly. It is important to use professional language and make sure to save the cover letter as a PDF to preserve the formatting across all computers and word processors.
Still not confident with your cover letter, or want to run it past someone with experience writing and critiquing them before you send it in? Make sure to visit our Peer Advising drop-in hours, which run 10am-4pm every weekday, and have one of our Peers look it over. We have plenty of handouts, resources, and experience with resumes and cover letters, and together we’ll get you started on your way to being a resume and cover letter pro!