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.

 

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