Cover Letter Writing

As the first thing that many of your employers will see, a cover letter is a very important document because it must communicate a good first impression while also notifying the company about the role you wish to play with them. Often sent along with your resume, a cover letter must provide a good introduction to who you are, rightfully complementing and not simply reiterating your resume or CV.

Highlight Your Strengths

A cover letter is, by its very nature, concise and to the point, so instead of taking up the whole page outlining everything you have previously done, or rather talking about how much you care for your prospective position, use the space you have to talk about your strengths.

One of the most important things that you put on a cover letter should be reflected in your language. Nearly every company you work for will involve at the very least some sort of interpersonal interaction, so presenting yourself as an approachable person that the company can relate to is important. This should furthermore be reinforced by your spelling and grammar, whose impeccability speaks to your ability to achieve perfection, even if it is in small doses.

Man with pen a paper, drafting a cover letter.

There are many ways to highlight your strengths without giving the impression that you are bragging, which may suggest to your employer that you are arrogant or are looking down on the position. Choose moments from your past employment, academic or personal experience that suit the given position, and use the moral or result of that story to imply that you are perfect for the position. The customer service representative who manages a crisis, the cook who saves a dinner rush, or even the volunteer who goes a little out of their way are what companies look for. There is much to be said about skill, but initiative is undeniable and universal.

Your strengths need not be measured in accolades, but it is okay if you mention some sort of official recognition for something you have done, such as an academic medal or an employee of the month award, to prove that you have not only followed an institution’s guidelines, but you have exceeded the original purpose of that institution.

Express Interest

Companies will often not want their prospective employees to move through their office like a revolving door. Expressing interest suggests commitment, and some of the greatest successes in companies comes from those who have persevered the longest within a corporation.

The best way to show interest is to, well, show genuine interest. From a rhetorical standpoint, one technique that you can employ is to mention your strengths and accolades in a fairly robotic tone, then, when need be, show some emotion. Just like commitment and initiative, companies also want people who are hardworking for the best reasons possible.

Different Options

There are several cover letter options that you can use, but choose carefully, as they vary by position. Application letters, which correspond to basic job openings that you want to obtain, must be approached relatively tentatively, as you may not be familiar with their practices, or what exactly they want. In these, a full introduction to who you are is very important.

On the other hand, prospecting letters are simply written to inquire about what positions are available at a company. While many online job banks will show each one being advertised, sometimes it pays to use this to find unexpected results, and to get in touch with employers. Some companies are looking for people who succeed through their formality, so this is a good choice if you can subtly display your skills without excessive explanation.

Finally, networking letters are written if you are seeking someone to help you get a job, or perhaps if you are seeking a link between you and someone higher up in a company. Networking letters can either be mailed to colleagues within your company, to lower employees for a company you are seeking to join, or simply on websites like Linkedin.com, where a formal introduction will surely break the virtual ice.