Ah, the dreaded cover letter. What people don’t realize is that the cover letter helps an employer get a feel for your personality and what you can bring to the company. The cover letter gives you your opportunity to shine. Tackle these steps and all you will have to do is get interview-ready.
Understand the Company Culture
The first thing you should do prior to writing your cover letter is research to familiarize yourself with the company and their needs. The company website is a great place to start, as one can explore the company’s mission statement, goals, and company culture. Next, take a look at the LinkedIn company pages to learn about what is currently going on in the company. Learn the brand’s style through the company blog, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform that could give you the insight you are looking for.
IMPORTANT: Use your research findings to create a voice within your cover letter that matches the company culture and brand. For example, if you are applying to a public relations agency, be creative and snappy. You could earn extra brownie points by mentioning how much you loved a recent cover story on one of its clients. On the other hand, if you are applying to a company that is strictly business all the time, get rid of the fluff about how much you love the company and get straight to your accomplishments.
Let the company culture and voice guide you when formatting. For now, we will focus on traditional cover letter format. The cover letter has four essential parts: heading, introduction, argument, and closing.
- Header: Display your name, address, phone number, and email address in the same format as your resume. Include the date you print and mail (or email) the letter. Next, add the recipient’s name and address; align the information to the left. Lastly, include a salutation (Dear Mr./Ms./Dr.).
- Introduction: Immediately indicate which position you are applying for and how you heard about it. Be sure to mention if you were referred by someone (i.e. alumni or contact). Make sure to state your major as well as why you want to work for the company/what makes them so compelling.
- Argument: Describe your relevant coursework and experiences that would make you a good fit for the position. Then, expand on a specific experience(s) that support why you are a “match” for the position. Wrap up the argument by describing how you would apply the skills and knowledge gained from your experiences to the position in which you are applying.
- Closing: Wrap things up by thanking the employer for their time and consideration. Offer to provide any additional information. Provide your email and phone number in the last sentence.
End your letter with:
Your signature (leave 3-4 spaces)
Your Typed Name
NEVER EVER Re-use a Cover Letter
As appealing as it may be, never re-use a cover letter. Your cover letter will lose the genuine feeling if most of it is copied and pasted. Mention specific examples about why this is the place for you and why you are a perfect match for the team. Showcase your excitement for the brand by mentioning what you like most about a client’s ad campaign or comment on recent positive news surrounding the company. Prove that you are passionate about the actual job you are applying for and the company you want to work at.
Lastly, if you can catch the employer’s eye through writing with a voice that aligns with that of the company’s, show your personality and qualifications, as well as the appropriate formatting, you are that much closer to an interview–and a job!