By: Bailey G.
How are already two-thirds of the way through June? WHERE DOES THE TIME GO? Between spin, starting a new fitness program, weekend getaways with my boyfriend, seeing friends, a full-time job, and a leadership position in an association….it’s been hectic for sure. Anyways, I know a lot of you are in the boat of looking for full-time jobs post-graduation or full-time internships for the Fall. One of those major things that can separate you from the rest of the pack of job-seekers is a killer cover letter.
Along with every good resume should come an even better cover letter. Cover letters are that 3-4 paragraphs that introduce you, as well as display your personality and experiences all out on the table on just one page. Essentially, it’s a professional version of what some might refer to as a dating bio. Obviously much different than a Tinder bio in actuality, however, a cover letter really can be thought of as similar to a dating scenario. The first part should be why that company is awesome, the second part why you’re awesome, and the third part, why you should get together!
Let me break that down….
Paragraph #1: Hook, Line, and Sinker
The intro paragraph needs to be a compelling hook, with the first sentence captivating the reader right off the back. You want to be unique and interesting enough to pull them in further. This is where you can spice it up a bit, let your personality shine (within reason of course). For example, when applying to communication jobs in the outdoor industry, my hook would often be something like:
“As someone who learned to ski at age three, climbed my first Fourteener when I was five, and backpacked with llamas throughout my childhood, the outdoors has always held a special place in my heart. That is why I wanted to apply for _____position______ at ____company.”
After the hook, you want to explain why you’re choosing that company and what you know about them. This is where you list your knowledge of their industry or products, any connections you already have to the company, and any people at the company who could vouch for you. Lastly, in this paragraph, you’ll want to top it off by summarizing a few of the key strengths you bring to the table, which you’ll dive deeper into in the next sections.
Paragraph #2-3: Get to Know Me
The next one to two paragraphs should revolve around the expansion of those strengths that you mentioned above. You can choose to go into detail around a few things that you mention in your resume or bring in new experiences that you think might be relevant to share. Pick 3-4 topics to discuss, with 2-3 sentences for each one describing the relevance of that experience to the current job opening and results that stemmed from it. Those results can be the quantifiable numbers or soft skills that I mentioned in the Resume Tips blog. Showcasing the relevancy of these experiences and why they make you qualified for that new position will help shape an employer’s idea of how you fit into that job.
Don’t be afraid to let your personality show either. Cover letters are almost always used as a culture fit for a recruiter to decide if you truly match what the company is looking for in addition to all that you mention in your resume. They are also used as a writing sample, so be sure to have a second pair of eyes review it before you submit it, and don’t forget Spell check!
Paragraph #3-4: By the Way….
The last paragraph should be a summary of why you're qualified, why you want to work for that company, and why you above all else should be the one chosen to move forward. You can mention a few interesting facts here as well to encourage a continuation in conversation, and you should definitely list the email and phone number they can connect you at to make it as easy as possible to get in touch with you. Finally, don’t forget to thank them for their time and to sign off on the cover letter (i.e. Sincerely, Best Regards, Warmly, etc.).
The most important thing about cover letters, as is with resumes, is to CUSTOMIZE them! Tailor each individual one for each job you are applying for, and make it special. The worst thing you can do is have a generic templated one that is obviously used for mass-applying.
Think of your cover letter as your brief story of you, and you want recruiters and employers to fall in love with that…so make it count! For more cover letter tips, check out this helpful article on The Muse, one of my favorites!