Cover Letter Tips

In many cases, employers would want to recieve a Cover Letter attached to your Resume. 

The Cover Letter gives you a chance to elaborate to the potential employers on the Skills and Experiences you wrote on your Resume.

Key Elements

Writing a cover letter/inquiry is like writing a brief persuasive essay. With the cover letter, you are able to write about your skills and qualifications as they directly relate to a position to which you are applying. In an inquiry letter, you are speaking to your experiences and skills but in a more general sense with the intent of demonstrating your fit, match, and/or candidacy for a possible future opening with a company or organization. In either of these documents, you will make a thesis statement or a claim about something, back up that claim with evidence and then draw it to a close. Once again, the key elements are your:

  1. Thesis statement: In this case, it would be that you are an excellent candidate for a given opportunity (i.e. job description of your choice) because of your specific skills, abilities, experience.
  2. Evidence: Support your thesis statement with brief, specific examples of relevant skills, abilities or experiences that make you an excellent candidate.
  3. Closing statement: Affirm your interest in the opportunity, request an interview or say when and how you will follow-up, and thank the employer for considering your application. 

Remember that cover/inquiry letters build a bridge between your resume and the opportunity at hand. Focus on the  most relevant, strongest skills you bring to the employer.

Guidelines

  • Be simple and brief. Say what you mean without verbosity. Keep it to one page, 3-5 paragraphs long consisting of 2-5 sentences each. You should use terminology and buzzwords of the career field to display your familiarity with the profession, but do not overdo it.
  • Only make statements that can be verified. You should be able to cite specific examples that demonstrate your skills.
  • Identify yourself as a good solution to the employer’s needs. Relate your strengths to the requirements of the position and explain how you meet the qualifications. Stress what you can contribute to the position, not what you want out of it.
  • Highlight important aspects of your resume. Use key phrases to bring your reader’s attention to the major achievements and talents that make you a good candidate.
  • Research the company before you write. Review websites, brochures, and conduct an internet search to glean pertinent information that can inform your approach to the letter.
  • Use active, descriptive words.  At the bottom of this page, there is a list of dynamic active and descriptive words to help you develop your cover letter.

Most Common Errors

  • Sending a generic letter to all employers. Tailor each letter to the specific needs and characteristics of each organization. Try to create an industry-specific cover/inquiry letter that is easily adaptable so you do not have to completely rewrite each time.
  • Neglecting to double (and triple) check that the person/company to whom you have addressed the letter is the same as the person/company to whom you refer in the body of the letter. 
  • Writing to negate your “weaknesses” instead of focusing on your strengths. Focus on matching your skills to the job description and/or the organization/company’s vision. Avoid beginning sentences with “although.”
  • Stating that you are willing or able to do “any or every job.” Instead, show that you have direction and are self-aware by being specific in what you want to do and for whom (i.e. the company or organization to which you are applying).
  • Using superficial or flowery terms such as: “hardworking,” “loyal,” “love,”, “perfect,” or “passionate.”
  • Submitting the document with errors and/or typos. Do not rely solely on the computer’s spell-check function. Proofread and edit thoroughly. Ask a friend, relative or CDC staff member to do the same.
  • Sending an unsigned letter.  Letters sent by email need not be signed. However, if you are sending a hardcopy or faxed letter, be sure you sign it.

 

How to Write an Effective Résumé

What is a resume? 

  •  It is a professional advertisement about yourself that translates what you have done in the past into what you can accomplish in the future.
  • Your resume should captivate the reader and answer the question, "Why should the employer want to interview me?"
  • Think of your resume as a 30-second personal commercial.

What Makes a Good Resume? 

  •  Your resume should be visually pleasing, attention grabbing, as well as clearly and concisely written.
  • Spelling, grammar, and neatness are of paramount importance. Research shows that spelling or grammatical errors in a resume can be fatal to employment chances.
  • Neatness and organization are a projection of your personality on paper.
  • Remember that potential employers are skimming resumes (a few seconds each!) and sorting through dozens, sometimes hundreds of resumes for one job opening!!

Getting Started with your Resume:

Make a master list of all your experiences:

  • Include activities, courses, all jobs, internships, and volunteer work.
  • Write as: Title, Name of the Organization, city, state, dates.

Identify your accomplishments in these experiences and the skills gained:

  • Refer to the list of action verbs (included on the last page of this handout).
  • Choose action verbs that stand out when skimmed down the page by first word only.
  • If printing a hard copy, use high-quality, light-colored resume paper.

Refine what you have written:

  • Be sure descriptions are very strong and very clear.
  • Do not leave out any relevant skills.
  • Keep the information visually organized and well-spaced over the entire page.

Proofread, proofread, and proofread!

  • Check spelling, word usage, punctuation, address, and phone number.

Prioritize your Resume Content:

  • Target your resume to meet the needs of the employer and/or the industry.
  • Research the position and organization to determine the skills, experience, knowledge and personal attributes required to excel in the positions for which you are applying. (Do they value leadership more than technical experience? How important are communication skills?).
  • Limit your resume to one page.
  • Have more than one version of your resume highlighting the skills, experiences, and strengths for each field to which you will be applying for jobs.

Resume Content Overview:

  • Your name: Make it visible! Center, capitalize, or bold the letters of your name at the top of the page.
  • Your address, phone number & email address: Place your present and permanent contact information (if different) at the top of the page.
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