Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Creative Cover Letters

Writing a cover letter can be the most difficult part of job application process.  In fact, half the battle is simply sitting down to a blank document and knowing where to start.  The following is a format CU’s Career Services office suggests for students when starting a cover letter. 
Cover letter formatting:
-        Contact information should be at the top of the page (same style as your resume)
-        Cover letters should be no longer than 1 page
-        Use a basic and professional font, size 12 pt.
-        Business style letter
Professional's Contact Information
To Ms. Smith (or “To whom it may concern” if you don’t know the person):
Introductory Paragraph:  This is the attention grabber.  Show enthusiasm to arouse the reader’s interest.  When you are applying for a specific internship or job, note the position title and the name and date of the vacancy listing.  If you saw the listing on CSO, list that information as well.  If applicable, give the person’s name that referred you to the organization.  Most introductory paragraphs are short, so be brief and clear.
Middle Paragraph:  This is the sales pitch.  It is the longest of your paragraphs.  Present specific skills, education, and/or experience that make you an attractive candidate for the position.  Highlight special skills that are relevant to the job description.  Prove that you know the company by directly referencing how your skills and experience match the position.
Final Paragraph:  This is the request for action.  Be proactive and ASK for an interview or a meeting to discuss how your skills might assist the employer.  Offer to provide more information (e.g. samples of your work, more details of your past experience or education, etc.).  You may ask the employer to call you, or you can take the lead and indicate that you will call.  Provide your telephone number and email address with the best times to contact you. 
Thank the employer for his/her time and consideration.

Although this is a good starting point for formatting the cover letter we also strongly encourage you to be creative!  Unlike the resume that simply states your facts and experience, the cover letter shows the employer who you are.  At the end of the day there could be several other applicants who have similar experience, but ultimately it’s your personality illustrated in your cover letter that is going to get you the interview and hopefully the job.
For more information check out our Resumes That Rock Presentation on Tuesday, November 1 from 5:30-7:00 in Norlin E303.