5 Things Every College Graduate Should Know About Writing a Cover Letter

  1. Cover letters should be formatted. The presentation of your cover letter can be just as important as its content. After all, it is the first thing that an employer sees, so you want to choose a clean, clear letter format that is easy to read, like those available from Microsoft Office. Although cover letters should always look professional, their formats can differ depending on what type of job you are applying for. Just be sure to always choose an appropriate one that portrays the message you want to send.
  2. Cover letters should be organized. Begin the letter with an introductory paragraph that states who you are and why you are contacting them. This can include your educational qualifications, such as major and university, what position you are applying for, and where you heard about the position. Continue the letter with body paragraphs that describe why you are the best person for the job with examples about relevant experience, qualities, and skills. Finally, conclude the letter with a paragraph that reiterates why you are the best candidate for the position. Don’t forget to request an interview and provide your contact information.
  3. Cover letters should be customized. Employers can tell if you are sending them a generic cover letter that you have also sent out to every other job. In these cases, chances are they don’t appreciate it. You have a much better chance of landing an interview if your letter addresses the specific needs of the position you are applying for. Customize your letter by carefully looking over the job description, determining in what ways you meet the requirements, and deciding how to best present that to the employer.
  4. Cover letters should not be all about you. The cover letter is about what you can do for the company, not about what they can do for you. Take the time to research the company and learn about their vision, mission, and overall purpose. Remember, employers aren’t interested in your long list of accomplishments, so make sure your cover letter not only focuses on why you are the best candidate for the job, but also what you could potentially bring to the company.
  5. Cover letters should be proof read. There is no quicker way to turn off an employer than with a misspelled word or misplaced comma. You should proof read your letter at least three times before sending it off to an employer. Proof reading doesn’t just mean using spell check. It also means checking grammar and punctuation. If English isn’t your strong point, have someone else check it for you or visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab to learn about correct language usage.


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