Create the Perfect Cover Letter

3 01 2009

As much as we might not like them, cover letters are still a necessary part of the internship application process. Many professionals suggest that a Cover Letter or “CL” is more important than a resume. Cover Letters are your “on paper” greeting and introduction to potential employers. When applying for internships, you should send both a cover letter and a resume. At the bottom of your resume, I suggest including the following statement:  *References are available upon request. If a company wants to view additional materials and/or letters of reccomendation, they will let you know.

 

Tips on How To Create The Perfect Cover Letter

  • Think in 3. Your cover letter should consist of 3 paragraphs. When planning what material to put in your CL make a list with 3 categories : Intro, Professional, Personal. Read on to determine the best place to put all of your information.

  • Introduce Yourself ! The first paragraph should be an introduction. Explain who you are, where you go to school, your major, and the specific position you are applying for.

  • What have you ever done ? The second paragraph of your CL should clearly state why you are professionally qualified for the position. Explain your previous work experience. Concentrate on relevant work and describe why the skills you learned at other jobs/internships will help you with this position.

  • What do you have to offer? The third and final paragraph should be used to really SELL yourself and your personal attributes. Are you extremely honest or loyal ? Maybe you are a perfectionist or a team player. List your positive characteristics and explain why these make you perfect for the job.

  • Google It. I hope you’ve already looked up and “googled” you company at this point. If not, check ’em out online and try to find the company mission statement. This is usually located on the “about us” page of a company website. Try to use parts of the mission statement in the final sentances of your CL. This demonstrates your knowledge of the company and their goals.

An example of this would be ” I’ve read about your company and how you value teamwork and creating new leaders. My strong work ethic and ability to work well with others will allow me to flourish in that environment. I look forward to speaking with you further. Thank you for your time.”

  • Sign it. Unsure how to close your letter ? Use “Best,”  that is always my “go to” with all business communication.

  • Short and Sweet. This cover letter should NOT exceed one page. You want to explain who you are and why you are best for this job but you DON’T want to carry on. If they are interested in you, you can save the details for the interview. Stick to the point. State it clearly and close the letter. Each paragraph should be at least 3-4 sentances.

  • Spell Check. I am a horrible speller and always using spell check in my formal letters. Make sure to check your spelling and then double and triple check it with your eyes or another set of eyes.

  • Share It. After completing your CL I suggest sharing it with a parent, teacher, or friend. This is just to make sure that everything flows right and that you come across appropriately. Student’s tend to ‘carry on’ about themselves or come across as ‘bragging’ which you want to avoid. You should come across as a professional.

  • Nothing Fancy. I have been sent some crazy cover letters with pictures, fonts, and crazy colors. I know that Elle Woods might have used pink paper but I suggest using a Cream-Colored paper to print your resume or cover letter. Anything considered a neutral tone is fine. Stay away from anything to distracting. YOU want to standout, not your paper. Also, please DO NOT attach any photos of yourself. Those are discarded immediately at some companies because of discrimination laws. Again, we want you to be interviewed because you are perfect for the position NOT because of your looks. I suggest using a basic TIMES NEW ROMAN font with a size 12. Anything basic is fine. Make sure your letter is clear and legible.

I wanted to know what other professionals thought about Cover Letters. I asked my pals on Twitter. Read their advice below:

” A cover letter should sell the person, tell a little of their knowledge of the company they are applying to and use examples of jobs to highlight skills.” – @Deltavogue, Monica Rowland, Professional Entrepreneur & Wellness Blogger.

“I want to see specific examples of work they’ve done that’s relevant to the position, NOT exaggerated words, or repetitive sentences.” @Jessicah07, Jessica Hoffman, Public Relations Executive.

“A Cover Letter is more important than a resume.  It shows how much they know about the company, how much they WANT to be a part of your business.” @JMegonigal, Jordana Megonigal, Editor-In-Chief at ShowCase Publishing in Greenville, SC.

“Simple Serif or Sans (either) is fine. 10 or 12 point font is best. No crazy fonts, colors, or perfume (Elle Woods is not real!)” @JPMegonigal, Jordana Megonigal, Editor-In-Chief at ShowCase Publishing in Greenville, SC.

 “TNR (Times New Roman) or Courier New, 12pt. Anything lower makes for difficult reading.” @Jennipps, Jennifer Nipps, Freelance Writer.

“Font size 10 is too small. 11 or even 12. An easy-to-read font is best – TNR, Arial, BellMT, Verdana, Garamond, Courier New.” @claudinerenee, Claudine Mialink, College Career Specialist.

“Lose the cliches. Every applicant is “good with people.” Show, don’t tell.” @Nooozeguy, Josh Fialkoff, Internet Marketing Specialist.

Want more CL advice ? Check out these helpful links:

Penny Loretto on Cover Letters: 
Monster on CLs:
Jobstar on Cover Letters:
* NEW LINK – Scribd on Cover Letters:
 

 

 

 

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3 responses

4 01 2009
Do You Have a Press Page? « Créatif

[…] then,  Lauren Berger (aka The Intern Queen) quoted me in an article on cover letters. (If I had thought, I would have mentioned something about my HR background in my Twitter profile […]

19 01 2009
Your career advice guide

Very good advice. Apart from the points mentioned above, do remember to add your contact details in the cover letter. Found an interesting article about writing cover letters at:

http://test.shine.com/Career-Advice-Articles/Resume-Preparation/How-to-write-a-Cover-Letter/1520/cid25.aspx

You may find it useful too…

23 01 2009
internqueen

Thanks !

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