Whether you’re applying to summer internships, looking into positions post-graduation, or just starting to explore Handshake and LinkedIn, it’s likely that you’ve come across several companies requesting a cover letter as part of their application. While writing a cover letter may seem daunting at first glance, this post will give you a few tips to make the writing process go as seamlessly as possible.
1.) Customization is key.
Although it may be tempting to mass produce cover letters, I’d recommend customizing the content in your letter to each position. Just as every company is different, every role requires a different set of skills, and how you demonstrate those skills is exactly what a potential employer is looking for in a cover letter. Luckily, many positions list preferred skills in some way or another; however, for positions that don’t clearly state their preferences, a good alternative is reading through the about page on the company’s website and finding a way to describe how you exemplify their values or mission statement. Whether it be through a job you already have, group projects that you’ve done, or a past internship, employers want to see who are you are and what you’d be like at their company.
2.) The flow matters.
When trying to fit past experiences into one page, don’t forget to look at how your cover letter flows. Employers tend to value strong writing and communication skills; therefore, it is essential that your cover letter follow a clear and logical order. To make sure your writing flows well, start by looking at the structure of your letter and see if each idea builds off of the next. If you find that your letter includes bits and pieces of ideas that don’t lead to a specific point, either find a way to connect those dots, or remove them from the letter and spend time building up the strong ideas that you have already formed. Additionally, your introductory paragraph should mention each of the points that you plan to touch on throughout your cover letter, making it easy for recruiters (who are often short on time) to identify the most important information in your writing.
3.) Make it genuine.
Unlike a resume, a cover letter is an opportunity to express some of your personality; therefore, it’s important that your writing sound like you. One way to include some of your personality in your cover letter is to focus on a group project that you loved and talk about why you loved it; discuss your strengths by showing some passion. Furthermore, do a final read-through and decide whether or not your letter sounds like you, or if it could have been written by someone else with similar experiences. Ask yourself if your cover letter demonstrates your unique thought process, what makes you a great team member, or why you would be a valuable asset to the position you’re applying for.