Ed Note: I keep hearing these questions: How do I write a cover letter? What should be in a cover letter? Here is an answer.
A cover letter should answer the question – Why should I hire you? It should grab the employers attention and point out why you, above all other applicants, should be contacted for a personal interview.
Here is a format:
YOUR ADDRESS (Do not put your name here)
Mr./Ms. EMPLOYER’S NAME (If you don’t have one, get one!)
DEAR Mr./Ms. EMPLOYER:
FIRST PARAGRAPH: This is the “why I’m writing to you” paragraph which immediately tells the employer the position you want to be considered for. This is short – usually 2-3 sentences.
Points to cover:
Why you are writing and which position you are applying for.
How you heard about the position is irrelevant unless it is a mutual contact or recruiting program. Do not write, “I learned of this opportunity through the Career Services Office.”
Show from your research why you are interested in this position or organization. The goal is to make a connection – do this Briefly and Specifically or leave it out; sweeping statements will not work.
SECOND PARAGRAPH: This is the “why I’m qualified” paragraph. Highlight some of your most relevant experiences and qualities as they relate to the position for which you are applying. Choose 2 – 3 points you want to make about Specific experiences/accomplishments or about general qualities you have exhibited, and provide Specific examples to support those points. This paragraph will change according to the job/employer for which you are applying. This is usually the longest paragraph of the letter. You may break this paragraph into two if it looks too lengthy or if your points work best in separate paragraphs.
Points to ponder:
The first sentence should be a hard-hitting opener. It is a quick introduction, which is accomplishment-oriented and directed at the skills and qualifications needed for the job/industry.
The body of the paragraph should provide evidence to back up what you’ve just claimed. Cite specific jobs/internships/activities/projects and accomplishments associated with those experiences. Use your resume to come up with some specifics, but NEVER reiterate passages from your resume word for word. Discuss why what you did is to the employer- relate the facts to the job. Strong examples are important!
The final sentence is a summary of what you’ve discussed above. It’s a good idea to mention the position title and company name to bring the reader back to the specific job in question.
FINAL PARAGRAPH: This is a short 2-4 sentences paragraph. You should refer to the enclosed resume, request an interview and let the reader know what will happen next (Contact them within specific period of time unless it is a recruiting program). It is vital that you thank the reader for his/her time and consideration.
See Sample Below **** UPDATED 19th August 2011***
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:
I am interested in the Coordinator position advertised on XYZ. My CV is enclosed for your review. Given my related experience and excellent capabilities I would appreciate your consideration for this job opening. My skills are an ideal match for this position.
- Responsible for evening operations in Student Center and other facilities, including managing registration, solving customer problems, dealing with risk management and emergencies, enforcement of department policies.
- Assists with hiring, training, and management of staff. Coordinate statistics and inventory.
- Experience in the supervision of student staff and strong interpersonal skills are also preferred.
- Valid driver’s license with good driving record. Ability to travel to different sites required.
- Experience in programming and management.
- Register students for courses, design and manage program software, solve customer problems, enforce department policies, and serve as a contact for students, faculty, and staff.
- Hiring, training, scheduling and management of staff, managing supply inventory, and ordering.
- Extensive experience in collegiate programming and management.
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
I appreciate your taking the time to review my credentials and experience. I can be contacted via email@example.com or on 080333333333. Again, thank you for your consideration.
Your Typed Name