This post is part of the series, “Get The Job”. To see all posts in the series, click here.
Omitting the resume, a cover letter is one of the most important written documents when applying for a job, especially your first job. While the resume is all facts, and no personality, the cover letter is the document where you can express yourself for who you are, and stand out from the rest of the crowd.
What A Cover Letter Is For
Don’t get confused – a cover letter isn’t your resume in paragraph form. The letter provides information on why you are qualified for the job/internship you are applying for. Think of it as a textual sales pitch where you are selling yourself for the job. Employers use these letters to get a better feel for your personality and get more detail than your resume. They use a combination of cover letters and resumes to screen applicants, and determine which they would like to come in for an interview.
Because you are a young adult with limited real-world experience, the cover letter matters even more than usual. It allows you to explain what you have done, and how you went about it (like volunteer service). You can’t change the fact that your resume may be a bit bare when applying to a first job, but you can make up for it in a cover letter
[Some can get confused into thinking that the letter is about their personal life, such as friends and family. This is not the case. A cover letter is why you would be a great fit for the job, and should state your qualifications, with a personal touch, complimenting your resume.]
Now that you know why you need a cover letter, I’m going to walk you through creating one, step by step.
Cover letters should be short and sweet – try to keep it to one page (with a maximum of two pages)
Use Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman, font size 11-12 (excluding headings). Black no color. And please, for the love of god, no Comic Sans!
Adjust the spacing according to the amount of text.
Start with your information. Include your name, address, email address, and phone number, in the same style of formatting as your resume. I just copy my heading from my resume to cover letter.
There are two main styles of header formatting:
Following your personal information, you should include your employer’s information. Remember, this is a letter.
This is also known as the salutation, and is usually, “Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,”. Do not ever write ‘to whom it may concern’, or ‘in response to…’. Use the name of the person reviewing the applications. You may not think that it is a big deal if you do not use the name of the hiring manager, but on more than one occasion I’ve heard that they regard the letter and resume less if they do not use the name. If you cannot find the name anywhere, call the business. [Usally you will get a receptionist who will give you the name. If the hiring manager picks up, don’t freak out, think of it as an opportunity to introduce yourself.]
Introduce yourself to the hirer, like you would do in a face to face sales pitch. State your interest in the position, and where you saw an ad for it. If you did not see it anywhere, but rather heard it through word of mouth, state a reference. If you are employed in a related job, state that you are. List a short list of skills that make you a great fit for the position, and why you would be an ‘ideal candidate’. Use this terminology, or something similar – studies show that certain buzzwords increase your chances of being called in for an interview.
After introducing yourself, it’s time to really sell yourself.
Keep it to one or two paragraphs. The body doesn’t have a set structure, but know that this is the place to really make the person reviewing the applications see why you are the right candidate for the job. Try to include three main points: Experience, Personal Attributes and Skills (that relate to the job). If you have heald a previous position relating to the industry state it here. Tell the person what you did in this position, and what responsibilities you had.
Employers are always looking for leaders – people who can think for themselves, but be trusted to complete the task at hand while enabling others. If you were a leader at a club, or of a sports team, don’t hesitate to put it down.
If you’ve never heald a big leadership position, or have had no job before, remember; you’re selling yourself. Tell the person hiring what you are most proud of/your biggest accomplishment/what you are passionate about. Don’t just tell – explain. Why do you like this thing (your passion) so much? What did you do in your time as an internship at ___? Show your personality, and why it would be a great fit for the job, and if it’s right for you, you’ll get the call for an interview.
Most conclusions follow the same structure as a cover letter. Sum up what you just said in the body, experience, personal attributes, and skills. Then offer your potential employer samples of your work (if applicable), and a copy of your resume. Finally, and most importantly, thank them. A note of gratitude can go a long way, especially if your cover letter is on a pile of another hundred that the employer has to read.
Your written signature
Pretty simple. For the actual signature, you can write it then scan it, and insert it into the letter, you could write it, take a picture and edit it in, or just write it in the printed letter.
If you’ve followed these steps, congratulations, you now are the proud owner of a stunning cover letter! Here’s what the whole thing should look like:
[et_bloom_locked optin_id=optin_2]CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD: Cover Letter Example[/et_bloom_locked]
Now, proofread, proofread, proofread. If there is a single error, it can ruin your chances for a job. Read it over, then have someone else read it over, then someone else. Then, after making the needed improvements, sit down, and pat yourself on the back. You’ve just created a cover letter, and made a physical and mental effort to better your future. You are one step closer to Millionaire By 25.
In the next post, I’m going to teach you how to prepare for an interview, and create an ’employment package’.
Remember, this post is one of many in the series, “Get The Job”. I’ve created it for people looking to get their first (or second) job or interview, but have no way of going about it, because traditional schooling doesn’t teach it. To view the rest of the series, click here.