It goes without saying that cover letters make it or break it for future interns / employees. Take it from someone who had no idea how to navigate her first resumé and cover letter. From the unnecessary facts (seriously I put that I was in honors English in high school) to the “cramming everything I had done in my life since I was twelve”, a little guidance on how to win over a future employer is always needed. Think of your future employer as the bachelor and you are one of the desperate, overexcited potential lovers just vying for attention and stand out from the crowd (and snag a rose while you’re at it). It’s tough. And since Valentine’s Day has quickly come and gone, what better way to celebrate than to win the love and affection of future bosses.
Cover letters are meant to do one thing: sell yourself. It’s where we can brag about ourselves and not feel bad about doing so. So your cover letter is no place for modesty. Highlighting your accomplishments is your greatest chance to show future employers not only your experience, but as well as specific skills you have acquired. Think of the obvious questions when knowing what is and isn’t useful to your future internship. What is it about your accomplishments that make you more qualified than other candidates? How will these accomplishments be beneficial to the position you’re applying for? It’s true that cover letters main objective is to promote yourself, but remember to stick to the relevant facts and make necessary edits to the position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for an editorial position, it might not matter to future employers that you were a member of such and such sorority.
Make Your Objective Clear.
The most important point to elaborate is your objective for applying. In order to make it more apparent for your future employer it is critical to state this at the beginning of your cover letter. Not only will it grab their attention, but it will also effectively Segway into the rest of your letter for the “X” amount of reasons why you would be perfect for this position. Another good idea is to restate your objective in the concluding lines of your letter. Think of your cover letter as a movie trailer. It excites and intrigues the audience enough to watch the film when it makes its way to theaters. A cover letter to an employer is the same way. It leaves your future employer with a feeling of excitement and peaking their interest.
Usually, an employer would seek out the characteristics that would make you more of an ideal candidate than someone else. However, it is important to find your originality among the trendy. While the words motivated, passionate, and creative may be the correct adjectives to describe you, it is more than likely that the employers have heard them from thousands of other applicants. LinkedIn publishes an annual list of top ten global buzzwords, so referring to this list is a great place to begin standing out from the crowd.
Less is Sometimes More.
Just because a cover letter is an excuse to make it all about you, remember your limits. Employers probably don’t want to sit through a three-page paper discussing why you would be a great fit for the company. It’s okay to make it as short or as long as you find it necessary. If your cover letter is only a paragraph while your friend’s is one page, don’t think that they outdid you; it’s only important that your cover letter covers the main points. A great tactic to use is the STAR model; expressing the five points that are crucial to a future employer: situation, task, action, and result. Begin with context, then follow with a purpose, and finally a result. This technique is great to showcase to an employer how you would be beneficial to their company in a short, yet effective way.
Proofread, Proofread, Proofread.
Spell-check is a great tool, but it has sometimes caused us to be lazy in our pursuit of great essays / cover letters. It’s important to go back through and carefully check to make sure your spelling and grammar is top notch. Ways to help ensure your cover letter and résumé are a success is to let it sit for a night without submitting it to any applications. Read over it thoroughly with a clear mind, this way you are better to catch sentences or punctuation you didn’t spot before. Another tactic is reading aloud. Sometimes the sentences we say in our head sound completely different when we read them aloud, I’m also guilty of this! If you’re still unsure, a great alternative is enlisting in the aid of Sewanee career services. They are willing to devote time and effort to ensure you send out the best possible resumé and cover letter to potential employers.
Who knows, in a few weeks time you too can feel as accomplished as Elle Woods!