A well-written cover letter could be all that it takes to get your foot in the door of an employer. You can think of your cover letter as a compliment to your resume. Make sure yours is put together properly. You may have heard along the way that cover letters don’t matter, but when working with employers I find that many of them talk about the importance of a good cover letter and how it can often make a difference in their decision-making process. A cover letter is another way to help you stand out, so don’t miss this opportunity to get yourself noticed.
It’s important to remember that the purpose of a well-crafted cover letter and resume is to land an interview, not an internship or a job. Developing a cover letter and resume is only the beginning of the process, but it is the most important since this is what it takes to get yourself in front of an employer so that you have a chance to wow them in person.
What to Include in a Cover Letter
There is no right or wrong way to write a cover letter but there are ineffective and effective cover letters, so it's important to know the difference. An effective cover letter provides an employer with a snapshot of who you are along with important information about your knowledge, skills, and accomplishments. When used properly, these documents can bring to life your academic, volunteer, and previous job and internship experience and highlight your unique qualifications for the internship or job. By writing an engaging, creative cover letter keeping the company and job description in mind, you will be formulating a document that’s focused on the specific skills that are required to do the job. By looking at the mission statement of a company and the specific qualifications for each internship, you will have all you need to write an effective cover letter.
The Focus of a Well-Written Cover Letter:
A well-written cover letter is one that is written with the employer in mind. So many of the cover letters that employers receive are filled with information from applicants on what a particular internship can do for them. For example, “I think this internship will be the perfect opportunity to teach me more about financial markets and will help me learn more about the skills I will need when seeking a full-time job.” The reality is that employers do not care what the internship is going to do for you, but what they do want to know is what you are bringing to the table and what you have to offer them.
5 Easy Steps to Improve a Cover Letter:
- Address your cover letter to the right person: Finding the name of the right person to address your cover letter will definitely make it stand out. If the name is not apparent in the internship or job listing, try calling the company to see if you can get the name of the hiring manager or supervisor of the department. Get yourself noticed by not using the ineffective, over-used “To Whom it May Concern”.
- Capture the reader’s attention: Many cover letters and resumes get thrown in the trash instantly because of a weak cover letter. The place to begin writing a strong cover letter is at the very beginning. It’s extremely important to include something in that first paragraph to capture the reader’s attention. By using some of the key terms that are included in the internship description, you will get the reader to take notice and make them want to read more. Make sure you target each cover letter and avoid the temptation of sending the same letter (or very similar) for each position that you apply to.
- Make your cover letter stand out: Be sure to include something in your cover letter to make it stand out. It may be an academic experience or previous internship or job that will make the employer take notice. It could also be a specific accomplishment or perhaps an honor or award that will get the reader’s attention and land you in the “yes” pile of the current group applicants. If you have completed a study abroad experience, this could be a great way to show your uniqueness and illustrate your ability to adapt and get along with others.
- Make sure your cover letter is error-free: Spelling and/or grammatical errors in a cover letter or resume are not acceptable. No matter how qualified you might be for the internship or job, the likelihood of getting called in for an interview will be very slim if an employer feels that the position is not important enough to you if you send in a document that is not error-free.
- Ask for an interview: So you’ve followed the top 4 tips and The Top 5 Easy Steps for Improving Your Resume, it’s time to ask for an interview. Since the overall purpose of writing a great resume and cover letter is to get an interview, why not include your specific request right in the body of your cover letter. An example of this might be, “I am very excited about this internship opportunity with The Smith Corporation and would be happy to answer any questions over the phone. I’m also available to come in for an interview anytime over winter break (December 23 – January 20)”.
Don’t leave your cover letter to chance; take the time it takes to write an effective letter to increase your chances of being contacted by the employer for an interview. Although it’s recommended that you apply to as many internships in your field as possible, it’s even more important to make sure your documents are well written even if it means that you apply to fewer employers.