Crafting a Catchy Cover Letter

“I can never write one of these things!” These are the words I constantly hear out of students’ mouths when they come into work with me on a cover letter. Whether they are using this document to apply for jobs or internships, or to send out to prospective employers, students often find writing a cover letter an intimidating task. However, I always give the same advice to every student.

Focus on this formula:

  • Introduction – Tell the employer:
    • What type of position you are either applying or looking for
    • How you found out about their company/organization or position
    • A connection you have with the company/organization (this can be something as simple as how you have used their company before or how you are interested in something you read on their website)
    • Your top three skills or qualifications you have (these should match up with what the company/organization or job description is asking for and will be what you talk about in the rest of your cover letter)
  • Body – In 1-2 paragraphs, demonstrate your top three skills or qualifications by:
    • Explaining the situation (this is where you can write about what job or environment you were working at or in)
    • Explaining the tasks or responsibilities you had that can back up your skills and qualifications you are discussing
    • Explaining clearly how those tasks and responsibilities helped you gain your skills and qualifications
  • Conclusion – Sum up your letter by:
    • Briefly stating again what your top skills and qualities are
    • Thanking the employer for their time
    • Expressing your willingness to follow up
    • Providing your phone number and email address (make sure your email is professional)

Now, if you are still having trouble creating your cover letter, here are some great tips:

  1. A cover letter should supplement, not duplicate your résumé. You can talk about the same experiences, but a cover letter should expand on your top experiences and skills.
  2. An application letter will be for a specific position you are applying for, while a letter of inquiry is a more general letter to see if that company/organization has any possible open positions.
  3. Do not be too wordy; while you do want to write about your experiences, be clear and succinct when you do so.
  4. Proofread your letter!   Read it out loud to make sure it flows and has no grammatical mistakes.
  5. Make sure your letter has a professional tone and style. It should be written in a business format.
  6. Always try and think to yourself: “Would this letter’s content make someone want to read my résumé?”

If you need some one-on-one help writing cover letters, call the UConn Center for Career Development at (860) 486-3013 to set up an appointment. Or if you would like to check out resources online, use the Center for Career Development’s Résumé and Cover Letter Guidebook or go to these additional links:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2011/03/24/how-to-write-a-cover-letter/

http://jobsearch.about.com/od/coverletters/a/aa030401a.htm

http://www.careerperfect.com/tips/cover-letters/when-needed/

Good luck crafting YOUR catchy cover letter!

 

By Ty McNamee
Ty McNamee Outreach and Programming Graduate Assistant Ty McNamee