Everybody talks about resumes. How to write them, what to include in them. Why do cover letters not get as much love? They’re just as important.
It’s an opportunity for you to explain yourself. Resumes are designed to be a simple layouts of your life of work. Cover letter allow you to bring your own voice into the matter, before the interview even begins. It’s a chance to talk about unique experiences and expand upon accomplishments. It can be hard, though. You may not have written something so expansive since an English course in college. Here are some tips to help you piece it all together.
Courtesy. Introduce yourself, and be thankful for the opportunity. Make sure they know you are grateful for the chance to put your name in for this job position, whatever it may be. Speak to your enthusiasm, make sure they know that you really care about this job and you’d love to be a part of the time.
Education. Discuss your educational background, and be sure to speak to accomplishments throughout your academic career. Discuss moments of leadership and resilience, and be sure to mention courses that you took (and did well in) that are directly related to the job, and experiences in those courses as well. It would feel empty to simply mention a course you took and not to describe it; make sure there is a meaning for everything, because you do not want to come off as somebody who is just listing things to take up space.
Related work. Talk about your past work experience, but instead of talking about what you job simply was, talk about your passion for it. Speak to what is important to you, and bring up your personal work, as well. Talk about hours you’ve spent writing or creating something, bring up times you’ve helped out a friend do their finances or edited their resumes. Work is not constrained to something that shows up on your W-2; we’ve all accomplished things on our own time.
Other work. This is the harder bit. How do you relate 3 years of working at Target to being a financial advisor? While many people would simply skip over it, I don’t think that those 3 years should go wasted. This is where you really talk about work experiences rather than the job itself. Talk about times where you faced adversity and you took charge, solving a problem with a team. Talk about times where you triumphed in a situation that most would fail. Team-building and leadership are qualities that you can elaborate on from any place of work. Don’t look at those years of working a lowly retail job as time wasted; use them to your advantage. We all started somewhere.
Closing remarks. Thank them for their time reading your cover letter, and once again for the opportunity. Keep it brief; simply restating your opening sentences in a shorter piece will do.
Remember to keep your cover letter to a single page, similar to how your resume should be formatted. When people read it, they’re not going to linger on the little details; it’s more than likely going to be a quick skim, so have someone else read it in a similar fashion and let them know what you think. Proofreading is extremely important, it’s absolutely vital, because any sort of syntax error in your writing will come across as being lazy and ill-prepared.
Thanks for reading, and best of luck on your cover letters! Be sure to follow us for all future posts and updates!