Whilst working on your job application, you may come across a section where you need to attach your own Cover Letter. You pause and ask yourself, “What’s a cover letter? I’ve never written a cover letter before.” Don’t fret, we’re here to help.
What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is essentially a letter of intent explaining your proposal of why you want to work with the company. It goes into detail of the reasons why you’re the best fit and also how your skills and goals align best with the company.
The Cover Letter is a quintessential part of your application as it distinguishes itself from the resume and curriculum vitae (CV). Both the resume and CV are merely documents listing past or current accomplishments, experiences, and awards you attained; whereas, the cover letter demonstrates your ability to utilize such accomplishments and experiences into action through your own words.
Tips and Tricks – Do’s and Don’ts
You want to highlight the right experiences and skillset you have on either your resume or CV that best shape you as a potential employee for the job.
Say for instance, you are applying for a software engineer position at Google. In your cover letter, detail your past experiences that led you to apply for this position. Maybe you were the president of the computer science organization at your school or received a national scholarship in engineering; expand on these simple ideas leading you back to how the skills you have are necessary and beneficial for the success of your position.
Show your interest in the job position by researching more about the company’s past accomplishments. Though you may have perused through the company’s website, you need to learn more about them. By researching the company’s history and what they’ve done, you are able to show that you’ve done an extensive amount of work on the company prior – that many jobseekers often overlook – helping with both your letter and preparation for the Interview!
If you had experience writing a cover letter for a previous job, it is not recommended to reuse such letters for jobs you are currently applying to. Though you may use the same template and format of the letter, word by word copying of a cover letter from one job to another is not conducive to the success of your job endeavors. Employers know if you are reusing letters as the tone of one letter may be different to the tone of the next. Best advice, don’t reuse cover letters.
Don’t be vague. I know, it may be difficult to explicitly mention your intentions and reasoning, but being vague won’t help either. If your letter is too broad, it may be interpreted as either one, you did not fully research the job position nor the company and/or two, you are reusing past cover letters to get your point across. Before drafting your cover letter, ask yourself, what exactly do you want out of the job and how will you accomplish that. Prepping questions prior to writing your letter could help ease vague ideas, shaping them into specific aims of focus.
An easy tip that is overlooked, don’t just reiterate your accomplishments that are already provided on your resume. Prior to highlighting your experiences, you want to expand on these experiences, relating them back to the overall goal of applying. There’s a reason why a resume and a cover letter are different; they serve similar goals, but different purposes.
Show, don’t just tell
Most importantly, don’t tell, but show. Don’t tell the employer – or whoever is reading your letter – your plans and aims for the company, show them through examples and experiences. By the time they’re done reading, they should be left with an image of you already as an employee at the company, knowing that you have the passion, goals, and a set plan to get the job done.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns in regards to drafting a cover letter, feel free to email OWINN anytime and we’ll be happy to assist you. Feel free to use this sample template to help you format a professional cover letter.
Story by Kyle Catarata – OWINN Special Projects Coordinator