Get started on your new career today!
Before I move on to financing college I thought I should address some of the steps I mentioned in my Dec. 20th blog. I always hate it when someone brings up an important topic and blows right through it, so let me backtrack a bit before I forge ahead.
Today’s career coaches constantly debate the need for a cover letter, but as I mentioned before, I’m a bit old school when it comes to some things. I believe introductions start with a handshake, and the cover letter is the correspondence version of a “handshake.” Your goal for the cover letter is to get to the official handshake in person via an interview. And it all starts with a cover letter.
The cover letter should consist of three short but informative paragraphs. Though the format is essentially fixed, what really needs to stand out is your desire to work for that specific company and in that specific position. Human resources recruiters know when your cover letter is a recycled form letter versus one focusing on their company and your skills specific to the position available. Here’s what your cover letter should contain:
1st paragraph: Tell them how you heard about the position and why you’re the best person for the job.
(Example: I recently discovered your opening for a Human Resources Generalist on indeed.com and instantly knew I not only fit your hiring needs, but possess a unique skill-set which I believe addresses future expectations. My professional background incorporates not only all levels of experience in human resources, but specific experience managing labor relations in the high tech industry. I possess an extensive background in conflict management and employment counseling relating to negotiation as well as SMART goal planning. Please take a moment to review my resume and feel free to contact me with further questions.)
2nd paragraph: Share some specific achievements relative to the position you seek. Don’t just restate your resume, but add your voice here so they get a feeling about who you are and what you bring to the table.
(Example: My years of experience from recruiting to management encompass everything from job fairs and employment postings to benefits analysis and policy and procedures establishment. Not only have I worked within the State of Colorado EOE regulations, but quickly negotiated the international personnel laws as manager for an Irish-based company located in Colorado Springs. My strengths lie in my abilities to strategically plan objectives within a department(s), and recognize the need for growth and structure as well as lead the implementation of developmental changes.)
3rd paragraph: Tell them what you plan to do here as well as how you can be contacted.
(Example: I believe very strongly I am the clear fit for your Human Resource Generalist position. I can be reached at (719) 123-4567; however, I will contact you by the end of the week in order to address any preliminary questions you may have regarding my qualifications. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration and I hope to speak with you soon.)
Done and done. Keep in mind each cover letter needs to be customized for individual companies and their open positions. However, it is perfectly fine to copy/paste portions of the second and third paragraphs if they”fit” the posted opening. When you do this, though, be careful you include all the appropriate information for the current position only. As with everything else, bad cover letters make lasting impressions with recruiters. They may not remember your skills and qualifications, but they’ll certainly remember all the mistakes.
I’m including a couple of websites as a springboard to begin your cover letter writing. The first one addresses the basics and provides an overall picture. The second website includes not only cover letter content but format, samples, and even how to send it in various formats (i.e. email, snail mail, etc.). It’s definitely worth taking the time to read through it thoroughly.
And of course, there’s’ always your trusted, tried-and-true Career Services department on campus where advisors walk you through the cover letter process and so much more. Start your year off write and right the cover letter to land you the write job. Oh, and spelling and grammar matter!