The second reason is as some of you know, I teach Career Strategies and this week my students tackled the dreaded cover letter. Some of my students really struggle with this assignment and if you’ve ever written one you know why. Cover letters can be really tough, especially if you have been putting off the creation of one, like a trip to have wisdom teeth extracted.
They don’t have to be that hard, you just need to follow some simple steps and remember to breath through the process! The format is going to be straight forward. You’ll start by left aligning your entire letter. Remember let’s keep it simple. Your contact information single spaced goes first, the date then the employer’s address. You’ll want to add a blank line between each section and another one before your Dear….line.
Now, it’s always best to know whom to address your letter to, but if you are answering a job ad and there is noway of finding out who will be handling the hiring process the acceptable alternative is to address this person by “Dear Hiring Manager:” Yes, you want to use a colon after the name, not a comma. A comma is considered to be too familiar. Hey, I don’t make up the rules I just follow “most” of them.
After your -Dear Mr. Smith:- skip one line and begin your introduction paragraph. You’ll need to mention what position your are interested, where you heard about it and of course don’t forget to ask to be considered for the position. Next, you’ll tackle the body paragraph. You will dazzle them with a few specifics on why you are perfect for the job. If you’ve read Julie’s article you’ll see I’m not a big fan of the standard, “I’m a hard-worker, team player, great communicator,” etc. I can’t not begin to tell you how many people write these stock cliche’s. The proof is in the pudding! If you want to stand out tell your potential employer why you are all those things. Give him/her examples of what you’ve done in the past that won’t come across on your resume. Now is your chance, don’t waste it sounding like everyone else.
Lastly, your final paragraph will be your closing. This is when you will thank them for their consideration and ask to follow-up in a few days/weeks in order to see if you can answer any questions they may have. Another pet peeve of mine is to state you look forward to the interview. It’s a bit presumptuous to assume you’ll get an interview or “be a part of their team” so just ask for the opportunity and get out before you say too much! Follow up with a Sincerely, and you are good to go. Obviously, there is much more to a great cover letter but if you follow this simple formula you’ll be more than half way there. Thanks to Julie and my student’s it really was a great week of cover letters!
Best of luck with your GREAT cover letter!