Writing a Cover Letter

When you’re applying for jobs, your resume and your cover letter go hand-in-hand. While the resume is where you’ll summarize your skills and experience, the cover letter is where you’ll have a chance to introduce yourself, show a bit more of your personality – and your writing skills – and make a great first impression.

Remember, even if this is your first time, you don’t need to be nervous about how to write a cover letter because The Center for Career and Professional Development provides cover letter help free for all Peirce College students and alumni. Here are a few basics to keep in mind while you’re creating a targeted cover letter.

Always send a cover letter. A cover letter is an opportunity to sell yourself to a potential employer, so don’t miss out! Include a cover letter whenever you send your resume or upload it into an online application. The only time you shouldn’t write a cover letter is if the job posting specifically says not to include one.

Don’t be generic. Your cover letter isn’t one-size-fits-all. It should always be written for the exact job you’re targeting, and, whenever possible, it should be addressed to a specific person. If you know the name of the person who will be reading your cover letter, that’s perfect! Include his/her name, title, company name, and mailing address. If you don’t know who this person is, you should do a little research. Try calling the company and asking who is responsible for hiring; check LinkedIn; or Google the name of the company and the phrase “hiring manager,” “HR” or the title of the position to which you’d be reporting (e.g., “director of operations”). Finding this small piece of contact information can give you a huge edge. It shows that you care about the company and are willing to go the extra mile.

One page is plenty.The final format and length of your cover letter will depend on how much you need to say and how you want to say it, but you should always keep it on a single page. A simple rule of thumb is to open with an introduction about why you’re writing, how you learned about the position and why you want to work at their company. Then, include a paragraph or two about yourself and your experience in terms relevant to the job description. Don’t waste valuable space talking about something unrelated to the job description! Finally, thank the reader for considering you and let them know what other information you’re including, such as your resume or portfolio.

Proofread your cover letter.Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors tell a potential employer you’re either inattentive to detail or don’t care that much about this opportunity. It’s easiest to catch these errors if you print your resume and review the hard copy or at least save it as a PDF to review. If possible, have other people read it for you too.

Don’t just repeat what’s in your resume.When you’re discussing your skills or experience in your cover letter, make them relevant to the potential employer. Instead of repeating your resume in sentence form, use your cover letter as a chance to explain how your achievements connect to the job description. This is also your chance to mention any important details about yourself that someone might not get from just scanning your resume.

Research. Research. Research. Use your cover letter to show that you’ve done your homework, demonstrate what you know about the company, and talk about what you can do for them to support the company’s success. The internet is a great tool for finding out everything you can about the company where you’re applying to work, but don’t be shy about reaching out to anyone you might know who works for that company.

Don’t be too informal. It’s OK to show a bit more personality and enthusiasm than you do in your resume. However, don’t go too far. Avoid any slang or extremely informal language. Your cover letter should still be a professional, polite, well-written document.

Remember to sign your letter! Your cover letter is a personal communication from you to the person who may be hiring you. Show that you took the time to make it as personal as possible. Sign it in ink.

If you want to talk more about how to write a cover letter, or if you’re done writing your cover letter and you want someone to take a look at it for you, reach out to the Center for Career and Professional Development. Email us at cds@peirce.edu or call us at 215-670-9202 or toll-free at 888.467.3472, ext. 9202 or stop by our office on the second floor of Alumni Hall.

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