Friday, April 17, 2015

Make a Strong Impression: Cover Letter Tips

Imagine: you're looking through the job postings on and you find a position that would be a perfect fit for you! You read through the requirements, and it asks you for a resume. Then, you see that you also need to send in a cover letter - this has always been a dreaded task for me. Personally, I've always had a little trouble with writing cover letters that speak thoroughly, and speak well of my experience and why I would be great for the job.

Cover letters are meant to be an introduction to you, and why you're the best candidate for the job! They are also a very common part of the job search process, so I thought I would share some resources, and a few things to keep in mind:

Start Strong
Your cover letter serves as the first interaction between you and the employer - start with a strong introduction. The goal is to capture the interest of the reader - in this case, you're trying to entice the employer
and stand out from the rest of the applicants.

Don't Include Your Whole Resume
A cover letter is meant to convey why you're the perfect candidate for the job. Something you should avoid is treating your cover letter as an essay version of your resume - keep in mind that they have your resume and have access to all of your experience. For your cover letter, include only the experience that is the most relevant for that job, and include any additional details of the experience that aren't conveyed in your resume. This may require some research into the position, or the company, and making a critical decision about which experiences you feel are most worth mentioning. Remember to keep it genuine - cut the fluff, and stick with accurate descriptions of your skills and experiences. 

Customize It!
When you're applying to more than one job, it can be tempting to use the same basic cover letter, with very minor changes. However, employers have seen so many cover letters, it's a safe bet that they can tell when a generic template is being used. Tailoring your letter so that it relates to the job specifically does take some extra time and effort, but it's worth it. Use it as an opportunity to show your passion for the field, and why you're interested in the position you're applying to!

Don't Be Too Humble
Humility is an excellent trait to possess, but don't let it stand in the way of showcasing your skills and abilities. Cover letters are your opportunity to express what you've accomplished, and the characteristics you have that will make you an excellent employee. A quick tip that The Muse offers to anyone who isn't great at writing about themselves: "imagine you’re someone else writing a letter about yourself".

For more tips, and some guidance on formatting your cover letter, check out AA&CC's The Cover Letter Tip Sheet, or pick up a copy in the office (AC213). The AA&CC website has more information about writing cover letters, found here and here. You can also come into our office, and have your cover letter looked over by one of our Career Counselors or Employment Coaches during Drop-in Hours, or by scheduling an appointment.

Best of luck on the job hunt,


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