When writing your first cover letter, follow these few steps to get the best shot at getting your foot in the door and making a great first impression!
This video will use Kelly and Joachim’s cover letters to guide you through the process of writing your own but be sure to check out CareerOneStop’s other resources.
Whether you’re competing for an interview, contacting an employer out of the blue, or applying for a job you found on Craigslist, your cover letter is your chance to make the impression you want. Ideally, your cover letter should grab an employer’s attention and let them know you and why you’re a match for their organization without anything extra. Short, sweet, and to the point. A few brief paragraphs with a few quick sentences.
If you can, address the letter to someone by name – and if you’re stumped finding a name, a phrase like “Human Resources” or “Search Committee” will do. Introduce yourself in the opening paragraph, say why you’re writing, and mention how you heard about the position. Here’s an example from Kelly.
I’m writing to apply for the position of Chief of Rocketry at Very Cool Rockets Inc. Your Director of Human Resources, Sarah Alden, informed me about this position in August at the Seattle job fair, and she recommended that I apply.
The next paragraph or two should express your enthusiasm and highlight your skills, education, and experience that relate to the job. Here’s how Joachim describes his high school experience on a robotics team in his application for a position at a robotics firm.
I am eager to work at VCR not only because it’s the leading robotics firm in the world but because the work VCR does, makes life better for people. This is my lifelong dream; in middle school I participated in a robot soccer team and I’ve never forgotten the collaborative spirit that drove us to victory.
This is where you’ll shine. Show the employer you understand their mission and what they do by using specific examples of your achievements and skills to demonstrate why you’re a perfect fit for their organization.
Close by thanking the recipient and say how you’ll follow up. Kelly had a previous connection already so she just affirmed her availability.
I am confident that I can offer you the expertise and problem-solving skills you seek. Please contact me at 555-555-5555 to arrange an interview. Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon.
But since Joachim sent his application in without an introduction you can see what he did to stand out.
I’ll be in Saint Paul all week, ready to schedule an interview any time. You can reach me by email, or by phone every day from ten to four. Thank you for considering my application, and I hope to hear from you soon.
When you’re done, sign off with a formal closing such as “sincerely” or “regards.”
Now that you’ve gotten the basics, remember to take a look at CareerOneStop’s other resources for cover letters and beyond. If you’re ready to start writing, why not download a cover letter and get going?
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2100 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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