Writing Cover Letters
You will probably find yourself agonizing over what to say in each cover letter you write. This is not surprising, and you are not alone. Care, every step of the way, is critical in writing a good cover letter, so consider the following helpful pointers as you begin sending out your resumes to prospective employers:
Do No Harm.
No typos, no misspellings, no errors. No kidding!
- Your letter must be well organized and neat: date, address, salutation and signature lines all in the right places.
- The content should be coherent and grammatically correct.
- Don't try to be clever; do be genuine.
- Your stationary must be business-like.
Know the Facts.
Do your research. At the very least, go to all relevant websites to gather information. Check NALP sheet when available.
- Have the exact name and spelling of the firm or organization.
- Identify, and spell correctly, the name of the individual to whom you are writing.
- Avoid "To Whom It May Concern" at all costs.
- Clearly state whether you are applying for a particular position or making a general inquiry about possible future employment.
Get to the Point.
That you are looking for a job is not the point. The point is why you are interested in this particular employer and/or employment situation and what you have to offer to them. Your message could say:
- You are eager to be a part of the organization or firm. Why?
- You have valuable skills and experience that fits their needs. What are they?
- Your work is accurate and prompt. Give examples.
- You are available when and where they want you. Or state your preferences.
Expand on the Contents of Your Resume.
In addition to your resume, you may wish to include references, a writing sample and/or a copy of your transcript.
- Do not simply restate the information contained in your resume. Rather, highlight or elaborate on one or two items mentioned in it.
- List as enclosures the items you are sending.
Do Not Drop the Ball.
Turn every contact into multiple contacts. You might:
- Call the person you are writing to and ask if you can send the materials.
- Wait until the letter has arrived, then send a follow-up e-mail or leave a voicemail to verify it was received.
- Inquire about any other items they would like to receive.
- Confirm when you should follow-up to set an appointment.
- If nothing results from your first attempt, and you are genuinely interested in this potential employer, inform them that you plan to contact them again in a given number of months to see if the possibility of employment has improved.
Cover Letter Worksheet
Paragraph One: Who are you and what do you want?
Who are you?
- Student at UofL
- Undergraduate major or accomplishment
- Significant employment experience
- Any connection you have to the employer - 1st sentence
What do you want?
- A summer job
Paragraph Two: What can you do for them?
- Demonstrated skills, experience, accomplishments
- Transferable skills, experience accomplishments
Paragraph Three: Cement the interview.
- Where can they reach you?
- When can they interview you?
- How convenient will it be for them to interview you?