Writing the Perfect Cover Letter
When applying for jobs, so much time is focused on creating a dynamic resume that we often ignore, or hastily put together, our cover letters. Yet it's often this very letter that lets us tailor our message to a particular employer and show off our unique style. It is advisable to accompany every resume you send out with a cover letter that you've taken time to customize.
The benefit is that it provides you with an extra marketing piece to sell yourself with. In it you can show an interest in an employer that can't be demonstrated in a resume. As well, you have a chance to point out one or two key skills or achievements so as to pique the interest of the company to want to read your resume.
While each cover letter should be somewhat unique and personalized, there are specific components that form each paragraph:
First Paragraph: Keep it short, with the purpose of generating interest. Tell the reader what prompted you to write (i.e. want ad, article in the newspaper, career fair, networking contact). Introduce yourself and state what kind of position you're seeking.
Second Paragraph: Explain how an organization may benefit from your experience and qualifications, then highlight any skills or accomplishments that may set you apart from other candidates.
Third Paragraph: Incorporate any relevant education-related background you possess that would make you attractive to the employer. Also mention something about the employer that shows you've done your research.
Fourth Paragraph: Express your interest in the company and make a request for an interview (or informational interview). Suggest how you will follow up and ensure that your last sentence thanks the employer for their consideration.
An example of a cover letter is provided below. The structure outlined is meant to illustrate the components of a 'typical' cover letter. Avoid using form letters, if you can, as employers pick up on this very quickly and may resent being 'bulk-mailed.' Keep your cover letter brief and to the point. Don't just repeat information word for word from your resume, but strive to explain what you can offer this particular company (not what you can gain from them). As with your resume make sure your cover letter is error-free.
Cover Letter Sample
4680 Leeds St.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 3C4
April 10, 2007
Ms. R. Taylor
Manager of Human Resources Envision Graphics Inc.
54 Sylvia Ave.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3R 1J9
Dear Ms. Taylor,
I recently attended a career fair at Dalhousie University and was extremely impressed when I visited Envision's innovative booth and discovered some new design services that you had on display. I am currently in my last year of a four-year graphics arts program and am familiar with most of the techniques that you demonstrated. I would be very interested in obtaining an entry-level graphic artist position within your design firm.
My last job entailed working as an assistant to the boss in a small graphic arts company. In addition to handling several projects at once, I was responsible for learning the latest graphics software packages. I was also in charge of many bookkeeping tasks so that customer accounts were up-to-date. Since the firm was small, I gained a large amount of hands-on experience from this position.
Through my university studies I have been involved in many assignments that have allowed me to add to my personal skills. One project in particular involved working with classmates to interview firms and assist them in creating an in-house graphics department. From this project I was able to enhance my communication and team player skills. Your representatives at the Career Fair made clear that your firm considers these abilities to be vital.
I am confident that my strong academic background and past experience would make me an ideal candidate for a junior graphics design position within your company. I look forward to meeting you at some point in the near future to discuss employment possibilities that may exist. I will contact you early next week to arrange a time. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
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