Cover letter tips

Cover Letter Guide

GOAL:

• To demonstrate how your skills, abilities, qualifications and competencies fit the job or internship requirements so that you stand out among the competition

PURPOSE:

• Market your skills to an employer
• Highlight soft skills (interpersonal, leadership, teamwork skills etc.)
• "Brand yourself"- showcase your unique enthusiasm for a specific position

TYPES:

• Application Letter
• Informational Interview Letter
• Networking Letter
• Thank You Letter – include something about your conversation to distinguish yourself. If you know a recruiter well, you can use his or her first name

CHECKLIST:

• Individualize each letter and keep it to one page
• Keep a copy so when an employer reaches out, you'll know what you said
• Address the recipient by name - look online, or call the company
• If you are unable to obtain a contact name, you can use "Dear Sir/Madam", or "To Whom It May Concern"
• Business language is clear, concise and tight: don't get too wordy
• Include specific examples (accomplishments, qualifications) when referring to your skills
• Avoid overusing "I" - use transition words and phrases as well as action verbs and adjectives to make your letter more interesting
• Check and recheck - proofread for spelling, grammar and punctuation, also ask someone to proof if for you

COMMON MISTAKES (what you should avoid!):

• Using the "standard" cover letter - you only get one chance to make a first impression, which is why it is crucial to tailor your cover letter to each and every employer and position
• Stating what you hope to gain
• Being too passive in closing
• Mass-producing cover letters
• Having grammatical, spelling, punctuation or spacing errors
• Not editing letter for word choice (key words) – search job description for requirements (Key technical words: Example (C++, R, HTML, Creo CAD Software, VHDL, Verilog, Matlab, Soldering, Microsoft Excel, Six Sigma)

STRUCTURE:

Your Address
City, ST Zipcode

Date

Contact Person, Title
Company Name
Address
City, State Zip

Dear Mr./Ms./Dr./Hiring Representative (Contact Person):

First Paragraph- Introduction
Establishes the purpose of your letter and explains why you are interested in the position, and why the employer should be interested in you for the position (interests, previous experience). The first paragraph should include:
• Begin with an opening line statement of why you are writing by naming the specific position or larger career aspirations
• Explain how you heard about the position employer and why you are interested in working with their group in this role
• Insert a brief sentence that gives your degree, major, college affiliation and graduation date
• Mention the contact person from who you learned about the position (if applicable)

Second (Possibly Third) Paragraph – Sales Pitch
Generate interest with content that demonstrates you have researched the company, and that you are able to align your skills and interests with the company:
• Indicate how you can help the employer achieve organizational goals in your specialty; focus on what you can do for them rather than why you want the position
• Highlight your most significant accomplishments, abilities and experiences that are specifically relevant to the employer and job requirements
• Do not simply restate your résumé - rather, elaborate and explain important experiences and personal qualities that cannot be indicated on a résumé
• As an engineer, writing skills are important and your cover letter is a means to show employers that you have this skill

Final Paragraph – Closing
State your commitment to action:
• Take the initiative to make clear what happens next - for example, indicate that you will be contacting them to ensure that they received your résumé and/or to clarify any additional questions
• Indicate that you are grateful for their consideration, and look forward to hearing back from him or her

Sincerely,

Your Name

 

Last Updated: 10/17/14