|2011 University of Kentucky Commencement|
For graduating seniors, this time of year is filled with job searches, career fairs and writing the dreaded cover letters to each prospective employer. In the midst of midterms and spring break, writing a cover letter may be the last thing you want to start working on, especially because it can be so intimidating. As a crucial aspect of any job application, a cover letter can be the reason why you did or didn’t land that interview. If you’re looking for ways to stand out against the others in such a competitive job market, here are some dos and don’ts to guide you along the way:
- Use resume paper. You may have gotten away with copy paper for part-time jobs and internships in the past, but now it is time to invest in the first thing that potential employers will judge.
- Address your letter to the person who will receive it. If the job application doesn’t indicate who that is, look it up on the company’s Website or call to find out.
- Name your connection to the company. If you know someone who works there (and will vouch for you), mention it. Networking can be one of the most helpful ways to secure an interview and possibly job.
- Research the company and tell how you will be an asset. Your experience and skills will likely be on your resume, so apply these to the position and indicate how you will benefit the company and its goals.
- Praise the company for its accomplishments. Tell what you like about its mission and the initiatives it has taken to reach it. Demonstrate knowledge of any awards or honors the company has received.
- Tailor each cover letter to the company/position you send it to. Yes, you may use a template, but be sure to customize it for each company. Show that you did your research!
- Request an interview and let the employer know that you will follow-up. Provide your contact information, and make sure that you use a professional e-mail address.
- Proofread. If you used a template, make sure the correct person and company are named in every personalized part of the letter. Double-check your spelling and grammar. A careless mistake could jeopardize your whole application.
- Don’t use the same cover letter for every job application.
- Don’t address your letter “to whom it may concern” or “dear sir or madam.”
- Don’t summarize your resume. Instead, apply your experience and skills to the position at hand.
- Don’t brag; rather highlight how your strengths will benefit the company.
If you need more guidance or maybe just some inspiration, then Google can provide a good place to start. You may be tempted to copy and paste a template, but remember to use your own words and personalize the letter to the company.
Also, be sure to check out the UK Stuckert Career Center after writing your letter. Career counselors are available to meet with you and to provide feedback before you apply for the big job.
Good luck and happy job-hunting!
***For a break from all of your hard work, take a look at these sarcastic cover letters. Although entertaining, don’t try at home!