You might think that if you have a good resume, you don't need a cover letter. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your cover letter supplements your resume. It focuses attention on your achievements and gets a prospective employer interested in you.
Cover letters are especially important to new graduates. Through the cover letter, you can persuade an employer to look past a possibly thin work history to see the value of your education and non-professional experience.
Always supply a cover letter with your resume - even if one isn't specifically requested. If you're applying via email, use the body of the message to convey the same ideas you would in a cover letter.
The Cover Letter Made Simple
A good cover letter contains the following elements:
- Introductory paragraph: Keep this section short! Identify yourself and your objective (to get a job or internship, etc.). You may also include how you came to hear about this opportunity.
- Brief summary of your qualifications: Don't reiterate your resume. Make a stronger impression by limiting your focus to one or two experiences. The more specific you can be, the better; try to include hard data as well as description (i.e. number of employees you supervised, increase in productivity, etc.).
- Conclusion: In the final paragraph, restate your interest in the company and provide information about the best time/means to contact you.
Below are two sample cover letters that use the tips mentioned:
Sample #1: Job
Sample #2: Internship
Ms. Kelly Williams
1877 W. Montana Avenue
Boston, MA 02129
Dear Ms. Williams,
I would like to apply for the position of Junior Analyst, as posted in the career bulletin at Boston University. I will graduate this spring from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a minor in French. My goal is to pursue a career in management consulting for the telecommunications industry, with an emphasis on international development.
I spent the past year interning for Sagitay Incorporated, a Boston-based consulting firm that specializes in telecommunications. My internship has focused on mergers and acquisitions; my main project has been devising viable reorganization strategies for the telecommunications arm of U.K.-based Synergy Incorporated.
Prior to my internship with Sagitay, I worked in the international services division at A.T. Kearney, where I was involved in the expansion of telecommunications giant Proteus into the European market. That internship developed my interest in telecommunications, as well as utilized my French language skills.
I read in the January 2005 issue of Fortune magazine that Vandelay is looking to broaden their base of international and telecommunications clients. I feel that my professional experience and educational background could contribute to your firm’s goals of expansion and growth.
I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss the position available. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to see some work samples. You can reach me by phone at (444)536- 1212 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your consideration.
Mr. Stephan Scheck
6553 Carlisle Drive, Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dear Mr. Scheck,
I would like to apply for a summer internship position with Innovation. I learned of your company through the placement center at the University of Missouri.
I am currently majoring in architecture at the University of Missouri and will receive my degree this spring. While I have a comprehensive architectural background, my emphasis is on rehabilitation and renovation.
I previously held an internship at Smithers & Associates, a St. Louis-based architecture firm. While there, I used CAD technology to help design floor plans for a multi-level retail space. I also used the drafting techniques I learned on the Digital Terrain Modeler (DTM) to assist on the redesign of a movie theater in downtown St. Louis. This could be of interest to you, as I recently read on your website that Innovation will be renovating three entertainment venues in the coming year.
I would like the opportunity to meet with you to discuss any internship openings you might have. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to see some work samples. You can reach me by phone at (444) 536-1212 or by email at email@example.com.
Thank you for your consideration.