Cover letter worksheet â€“ tips on creating a winning letter
This is an excerpt from â€œÂ Do I Really Need to Send a Cover Letter With My Resume?â€ and although itâ€™s referring to short email notes, the same principles apply when writing a cover letter. The author recommends a 200-word maximum length, which might be a challenge in a cover letter. However,Â conciseness is importantÂ so donâ€™t make it too much longer than that.
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Where your traditional cover letter may have started off with a paragraph about where you found the job ad and how delighted you were to learn of the opportunity (blah blah blah), the modern-day introductory note â€“ or â€œeNoteâ€ â€“ conveys your value in a meaningful way, shows the benefit of having you on board, and asks for a follow up conversation â€“ in 200 words or less.
Here are some ideas of what to say in your note, in case you need help getting your creative juices flowing:
1.Â Highlight accomplishments:Â Without repeating whatâ€™s in the resume, including quantifiable achievements is a great way to portray your unique value. Just remember to make it meaningful and relevant to the new role.
2.Â Mention why you are a good fit for the company:Â Each business has a certain culture and takes pride in a set of core values. If you were drawn to certain aspects of the companyâ€™s business model, mention this and show how your work ethic aligns with its vision.
3.Â Demonstrate your industry knowledge:Â Mentioning a historical fact or recent happenings related to your chosen field or target company shows your interest level and enthusiasm â€“ not to mention itâ€™s also impressive.
4.Â Add the reason for your career change:Â If you are looking to pursue a new career, this could be an ideal place to discuss the reason you want to get into this new area and how your background has prepared you for a successful vocation in the new industry.
You could go a few different directions with this note, but make sure you understand your audience (the person youâ€™re emailing) and appeal to their specific needs.
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On the following 2 pages are guidelines for constructing an effective cover letter.
As you write your cover letter, base it on an actual job posting thatâ€™s representative of the type of role youâ€™ll be applying for. Itâ€™s important to customize your letter to a specific job, so this is a good way to start. Each time you apply for a job, youâ€™ll need to modify your letter to match with the requirements of the position.
street address, town, state
phone number â€¢ email
NOTE: Copy / paste name and contact info directly from your resume so it matches
Hiring Managers Full Name (optional if you can find this)
Hiring Managers Job Title (optional if you can find this)
Company Street Address
Company Town, State, Zip
Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Lastname: (if available), OR Dear Hiring Manager:
(â€œDear Human Resourcesâ€ or â€œDear Recruiterâ€ are OK too, but not To Whom it May Concern or Dear Sir or Madam
Start with mentioning a couple of skills or specific knowledge you have as it relates to the position, such asÂ With my knowledge of X and my previous working experience in the X industry, Iâ€™ll be an ideal fit for (position).Â Continue this paragraph with a sentence or two, brief introduction of yourself (keep it relevant to the job you are applying for). The hiring manager doesnâ€™t want to read about anything that you have done that is not relevant to the job.
In this paragraph, go into some detail about the work experience that you have gained thatâ€™s relevant to the specific job youâ€™re applying for. Read the job description carefully to get a good sense of the skills and qualifications required. Figure out whatâ€™s most important to the employer. Focus on the needs and goals of the company and how you can benefit themâ€¦ not how the job will benefit you. Donâ€™t list your job duties and be repetitive of your resume, but instead focus on your skills. Reference things in your background, call attention to key accomplishments, expand on them, and tell a story, to provide evidence that you can do the job. Donâ€™t just provide a chronology and repeat bullets in your resume.
Next paragraph: keep highlighting relevant information. What do they need (required skills and qualifications) and what do you offer them? Research the company and utilize that research to your advantage. Find something in the companies â€œaboutâ€ section or in their mission or vision that resonates with you, but then be sure to tie that in with what you can offer. Maybe the company is growing rapidly and going through intense periods of change. You might sayÂ â€œBecause of the growth and change going on at (company), I am positive that my multi-tasking skills and ability to work under high pressure and fast moving environments will be a strong fit.â€Â Find something specific about each company that you apply to and relate it back to you. This shows that you took the time to research, understand their needs, and understand how you will fit in and help them meet their goals.
In this paragraph, briefly wrap everything up. You can say something like,Â thank you for taking the time to read about my qualifications. I look forward to the opportunity to speak with you further about how I can be a positive impact to (your company).
First and Last Name
phone â€¢Â [email protected]
Month 1, 20xx
(Name of person if available)
14 Goddard Drive
Augusta, ME 04330
Dear Mr. XYZ or Ms. XYZ â€¦ if no name, Dear Hiring Manager:
Because of my previous accomplishments in higher education and my desire to work with students and help them be successful after graduation, I believe that I will be successful as your next student affairs coordinator. In my most recent position, I coordinated diversity programming and oversaw the resident directors. During my tenure, the student satisfaction rating increased from 72% to 84% as measured by an annual survey.
While working at the University of New Hampshire, I collaborated with faculty, academic advisors, college staff, and community members to develop new programs which received high satisfaction ratings. At times I would be required to represent UNH at professional meetings or community events. These meetings allowed me to network and converse with diverse groups of people which helped me create new ways to contribute to student success.
I am a strong believer in higher education and giving people the opportunity to expand their skills through co-curricular programming. I feel that my professional experience in student affairs can help the students at your Augusta campus not only be successful with their academics but help them continue to be successful after they finish their programs.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my qualifications. I look forward to the opportunity to speak with you further about how I can be a positive impact to ABC University in your student affairs role.
(Your final cover letter should be no longer than this. Keep it concise and focused on whatâ€™s relevant to the employer, based on what they indicated for required skills and qualifications. Anything too long might not get read by the employer or recruiter. The body of this letter is 228 words)
Sample Opening Sentences
From our cover letter webinar:
As a media expert accomplished in bringing on new clients and a journalist with a strong track record of publishing articles in major news outlets, I will be an effective major accounts executive for Premier Co., Inc.
With my combination of experience in strategic planning, training, communications, and higher education, I have the blend of skills and abilities you need as you hire your next training coordinator.
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