Career Tip of the Month: Write an Effective Cover Letter

Cover letters and resumes are the first impressions you provide to employers, so you want them to be professional documents that present you both accurately and effectively. There are many tips out there for writing good cover letters, but there are two pieces of advice we would like to highlight for you.

  • Do not send a form letter. Customize your letter for each job to which you apply, emphasizing your particular qualifications for and interest in the available position. Make sure you consider the specific background and skills that would be necessary to perform effectively in that job (the posted job description is often a great place to find that information). Then, work to address how your own experience and abilities fit their advertised needs.

  • Think about your transferable skills. Let’s say you are applying for a job working with children in an after-school program, but your only work experience is as a store cashier. On the surface, those positions may appear to have little in common, but in reality, you may have developed very polished interpersonal skills through your interactions with customers. You may have honed leadership skills by training new cashiers. You may be very good at thinking on your feet and remaining calm during busy situations because of your experiences handling long lines and the occasional disgruntled customer. You don’t want to stretch the point, but you also shouldn’t be afraid to highlight the skills you have learned in one job that will help you excel in another.

To get advice from the experts on cover letters, you can check out the Career Services’ website. Even better, attend their upcoming workshop on Creating Dynamic Resumes & Cover Letters: October 24th from 2-3 p.m. in the 1965 Room.