- A cover letter puts your experience into the context of the employer.
- It refers the reader or employer to the experience on your resume.
- A cover letter tells specific stories about your experience and how they fit into the context of the employer.
- A well written cover letter is clear, concise, and focused on the needs of the employer. While the letter is about you it is written for the reader.
- The cover letter is not a prose version of your resume.
- In one page, the cover letter should convey your specific knowledge of the employer and position, highlight skills and experiences relevant to the position, and demonstrate your genuine enthusiasm for the position.
THREE PARTS OF A COVER LETTER
Part 1: Why you are writing and how do you know about this employer or position. This is your opening paragraph.
Part 2: What you know about the position or employer and how your skills and experiences fit their needs. This can be one or two paragraphs.
Part 3: Thank you and what you will do next. This is your closing paragraph.
TIPS FOR WRITING COVER LETTERS
Be professional. Write like a colleague and not a student. Be formal in content and style. This is the profession you seek to explore and perhaps join. Step up to the challenge.
Be concise. Write a draft and then cut everything that does not contribute to the reader making a good decision about you as an employee. Cut. Cut. And cut again.
Know your audience. Know the language cues that are meaningful to your reader. Write about your experience from their perspective.
STRUCTURE OF A COVER LETTER
(Justify all margins to the left. Use 11 point Times New Roman font. )
Why you are writing and how you learned about this position or employer. You are writing to either apply for a position or gather information. Be clear about your goal and say it directly. If there is a personal, faculty or alumni connection this is where you make that connection. For example: I wish to apply for the position of _____ at _____. Let the reader know exactly how you learned about them or the position. For example: I learned of this position from our mutual friend _____.
What you know about the employer or position. This may be combined with the paragraph below. Be clear about the specific skills or experiences you know they are seeking. Is there something specific about the employer that is attractive to you? What recent projects, accomplishments or aspirations of the employer do you find compelling?
Where you have demonstrated that you have used the skills they need. This may be combined with the paragraph above. Be specific. Tell brief stories about your experience or skills that are not on your resume. Refer to your resume but the letter should not be a prose version of your resume. When writing about an experience include a situation you were in, task you had to address in that situation, action you took to address the task and the results of your action. Think functionally about your experience. It does not have to be within that same environment to still be credible and valuable to the employer.
Thank you and what you will do next. Provide a sincere thank you for the reader’s time and consideration. Say just that: Thank you for your time and consideration. Let them know what you will do next. You have only two choices: call or wait. Unless the employer has given specific instructions not to call you should call them to follow up. Tell them the date and time you will call. For example: I will call you next Tuesday to follow up on my letter and resume. If you wish to include a phone number or email address this is where you place them.
(your signature in blue or black ink)
Enclosure: Resume (and/or any other materials you wish to send)