??? How to Write A Great Cover Letter

CSC Guide Body 07-8.qxd
8/9/07
6:02 PM
Page 25
How to Write A ???
Great Cover Letter
While your resume is a summary of your credentials,
your cover letter should essentially be a sales pitch.
Your aim is to demonstrate why your skills and your
background make a perfect match for the position for
which you’re applying. Don’t summarize your background in the cover letter—you have already done
that on your resume—but remember that employers
typically receive hundreds of resumes for each job
opening and a great cover letter can help you stand
out from other job seekers.
The best way to distinguish yourself is to highlight a
few of your accomplishments or abilities that show you
are an above-average candidate for this position. This
will increase your chances of being remembered by the
recruiter and of getting to the interview where you can
elaborate on the rest of your accomplishments.
Your letters should not only convey your interest and
qualifications, but also give the employer an opportunity to observe your attentiveness to detail, spelling,
grammar, and the overall quality of your written
communication. Flaws in your letters will often
be interpreted as flaws in your qualifications.
You can also gain an extra edge by showing
that you have some specific knowledge about
the company and the industry. This shows that
you are genuinely interested in the job you are applying for and that you are not blindly sending out
hundreds of resumes. Employers will also view your
interest as an indication that you are likely to stay
with the company for a substantial period of time if
you are hired.
PREPARE
It’s not enough to glance at a job opening and start writing
your cover letter. You’ve got to make sure the letter looks
right and that it doesn’t sound like you’ve sent the very
same one to many other employers. Tailoring your letter
specifically to the company and the position will impress
recruiters and give you an added edge.
1. Read the job description and identify your
specific qualifications that meet the needs
of the employer.
2. Look for key knowledge, skills, and experiences
that fit the job.
3. “Translate” into the language of the employer
if necessary, focusing on “transferable skills.”
4. Gather information about the company,
including speaking to people who can give
you inside information.
Consult the web for company home pages, analysts’
reports, newsgroups, and message boards; use web
browsers like Google.com, Yahoo!, and Alta Vista and
sites like WetFeet.com, Vault.com, Lexis/Nexis.com,
Hoovers.com, and Reference.com looking for information on the company’s history, new products or services,
size, sales revenue and locations.
Check the CSC library for directories, books,
brochures, and files about employers.
Attend employer-sponsored events and speak with
representatives to get a sense of the organization’s
culture as well as its particular employment needs.
Ask everyone you know for referrals to (former)
company employees; find alumni using the alumni
binders, then do informational interviews to learn as
much as you can from these “supportive insiders.”
WRITE
Draft the letter, ideally with a few different openings,
middle and closing paragraphs, in your own style but
following the guidelines below and using the samples
that follow (for ideas, NOT text to copy!).
The following format is the clearest and most straightforward but others in the samples are acceptable.
Err on the side of formality and don’t abbreviate any
more than necessary.
REVIEW
Have a few people review and make editorial suggestions about your letter. Family and friends, career
center staff, (former) employers, and faculty members
are among those who should be considered for this role.
REVISE
Make changes to strengthen your letter based on the
feedback you received in step 4 before sending it.
FOLLOW UP
Contact the person to whom you addressed the letter
in a week or so if you haven’t heard back to be sure it
was received and to inquire about next steps.
STUDYING OFF CAMPUS?
If you are studying abroad or in DC, you can still apply
for summer internships but you MUST indicate in your
cover letter that you are currently studying off campus.
Some employers are willing to interview by phone. If
you are selected for an on-campus interview, do not
sign up for an interview time. Instead contact Charlene
Kile, [email protected] to get instructions for setting up a
phone interview.
2007–2008 CMC CAREER SERVICES CENTER GUIDE
25
CSC Guide Body 07-8.qxd
8/9/07
6:02 PM
Page 26
How to Write A ???
Great Cover Letter
THE BASICS
Top Margin 2” (or more if letter is short)
Font 11
Date
Addressee’s Full Name
Addressee’s Job Title
Company Name
Street Address
City, State, ZIP Code
Dear Mr. or Ms. Addressee’s Last Name:
First Paragraph: Immediately explain that you are writing to apply for a job, perhaps mentioning how you heard about it,
especially if from a current employee or other personal referral (give the person’s name in this case), and briefly state why the
job and organization interest you.
Second Paragraph: Tell why you are qualified for the position, providing specific details about a few (unique?) things you
bring to the job and organization. Focus on how, based on concrete references to your previous performances, you will
perform in your desired position and contribute to the company. Avoid giving your salary history or requirements, if possible,
or give a range.
Last Paragraph: Thank the person for their consideration and say what you will do to follow up.
Closing Salutation (Sincerely, Best Regards, or similar)
Your Full Name
Your Mailing Address
City, State, ZIP Code
Phone Number (avoid using a work or pager number)
Email Address
Enclosure: Resume
(NOTE: Remember to sign your letter above your typed name!)
26
2007–2008 CMC CAREER SERVICES CENTER GUIDE
CSC Guide Body 07-8.qxd
8/9/07
6:02 PM
Page 27
Cover Letter
??? Checklist
n
n
n
n
n
n
n
n
n
n
n
n
n
n
1. Is it addressed to a specific person?
2. Is the salutation followed by a colon rather than a comma?
3. Have you told the employer exactly what position you are applying for?
4. Have you stated why you are interested in the position and the organization?
5. Have you told the employer what you can do for the organization rather than what it can do for you?
6. Did you use specific examples to sell your skills?
7. Is the sentence structure varied? Have you limited the use of the words “I” and “My” to begin sentences?
8. Have you requested action, mentioning that you will call, or are available to be contacted for an interview?
9. Did you express appreciation for the employer considering your application?
10. Is it a tailored letter rather than a mass-produced copy?
11. Is it neat and attractive? Is it free of spelling and grammatical errors?
12. Does the whole letter fit on one page?
13. Is it laser-printed on high-quality paper that matches your resume?
14. Did you sign it?
3
Sample Cover Letters
2007–2008 CMC CAREER SERVICES CENTER GUIDE
27
CSC Guide Body 07-8.qxd
8/9/07
6:02 PM
Page 28
Sample Cover
??? Letters
28
2007–2008 CMC CAREER SERVICES CENTER GUIDE
CSC Guide Body 07-8.qxd
8/9/07
6:02 PM
Page 29
The Thank You
??? Letter/Note
It is important to write thank-you letters!
Take advantage of the opportunity to:
n reinforce your interest in the company and the job
n
re-introduce yourself to the company
n differentiate yourself from other candidates
n provide additional information
n
address an issue that you may have overlooked during
the interview
Use the KISS approach with the thank-you letter:
KEEP IT SHORT AND SIMPLE.
FAQs REGARDING THE THANK-YOU LETTER
SHOULD I SEND A THANK-YOU LETTER? WHEN?
Absolutely!
In the hiring decision, sometimes the thank-you letter
could affect whether or not a job offer is extended.
You should write and send the letter within 1–2 days
after the interview.
WHAT SHOULD I WRITE IN MY LETTER?
Make reference to your interview to help the interviewer
remember you. Emphasize something significant which
transpired during the interview. Comment on the informativeness of the interview. Let the interviewer know
if you received any new or additional information from
the interview. Reiterate your interest in the job and the
company.
SAMPLE THANK-YOU NOTE/LETTER:
Dear Mr. Simpson,
I appreciated the opportunity to meet with you to
discuss my interest in the Research Associate position
with XYZ company. Your explanation of the training
phase of employment was very helpful. It gave me
a better understanding of the responsibilities of this
position. I am confident that I can be a productive
employee for XYZ.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely,
Gwendolyn Morris
SHOULD I SEND A LETTER TO EVERY PERSON WITH
WHOM I INTERVIEWED?
Yes. It is also appropriate to send a letter to the person
who arranged for your interviews, such as the company
recruiter or the office coordinator.
HOW LONG SHOULD THE LETTER BE?
Remember . . . KEEP IT SHORT AND SIMPLE,
no more than three paragraphs.
SHOULD I USE PRE-PRINTED THANK-YOU CARDS?
Pre-printed cards are acceptable if they are not too
“flowery” or “cutesy.”
CAN IT BE HAND-WRITTEN?
Personal handwriting is a very nice touch if your
handwriting is very legible.
(Word-processed) letters are also fine, but be sure
to sign in ink.
CAN I EMAIL MY LETTER?
SAMPLE THANK-YOU NOTE/LETTER
FOR MULTIPLE INTERVIEWS:
Dear Mr. Simpson,
Thank you for arranging for my interviews with XYZ
company. The opportunity to meet with the members
of the marketing team was very helpful and gave me
a better understanding of what the Research Associate
position entails and what I would be doing if offered
the job.
Would you please convey my appreciation to Mr. Smith
and Ms. Jones for the time that they spent with me.
I found my interviews with them to be very informative
and appreciate the opportunity to have met with both
of them.
I remain very interested in the position and look
forward to hearing from you soon.
Sincerely,
Gwendolyn Morris
We recommend that if you are going to email your
thank you letter, you also send a hard copy. Make sure
your email letter is just as professional and error free as
a hard copy. Do not mail your letter as an attachment.
2007–2008 CMC CAREER SERVICES CENTER GUIDE
29
`