Help with cover letters
March 18, 2011
In this week's blog we want to discuss a few tips for writing strong cover letters.
The most important point about cover letters is: do not make a generalized letter to send out to multiple employers. Each cover letter should be tailored to the company you are interested in applying for, and more specifically, the exact position you are applying to.
To achieve this, I recommend the following prep work:
- If searching online, print the job posting - highlight/underline every qualification listed within the posting (i.e. education, experience, interests/hobbies, personality qualities, technical skills).
- Using the qualifications specified, identify which qualifications you have that match those they are looking for. Note: even if you do not meet all of their qualifications, don't be discouraged from applying! They may be happy to find a candidate that fulfills most of the qualifications.
- This preparation can help you determine if the position is right for you.
Once you have prepared your relevant information, you're ready to write your cover letter! See the Student Handbook and the 'Resources' section of CareerEngine for cover letter formats to guide you through an actual template.
The following tips can help strengthen your cover letter:
- This is business correspondence. Use respectful professional greetings, endings, and language throughout the letter (no emoticons or acronyms).
Professional greeting: Dear Ms. Smith: or Dear Mr. Jones:
NOT professional: Hey Jim,
- Spell check! Grammar Check! Proofread! We cannot stress this enough.
" ...employers take such things very seriously."
-James Cornell, Project Manager, Safe Sustainable Steel, ArcelorMittal USA
- Use your OSU email address or create a professional gmail or yahoo account (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Be concise in your writing - communicate only the necessary information. Cover letters should, at most, be a page in length and preferably one-half to two-thirds of a page.
- By the time a recruiter finishes reading your cover letter, you should have them convinced that your qualifications are a good match for their specific opening.
"A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence."
Authored by Jena Pugh.