Carolyn Campbell, MA, CPPC

The cover letter is a fabulous way to begin to build a professional relationship with a prospective employer. Your cover letter gives you a great chance to reveal a bit of your personality and emphasize what you can contribute to the organization. Unfortunately, it is one of the most overlooked, underused elements of the career seeking process.

Your ‘job’ is to tell them how you can help them within 2-3 paragraphs! Write it in your own words so that it sounds like you–not like something out of a book. Keep it short. Below are the three parts of a dynamic cover letter.

Don’t forget to USE A PROOFREADER! AND, let your personality come through.

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PART 1: Start with them! WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE POSITION?
This is where your research comes in. Take time to find out about their work. Display your knowledge in your cover letter. It shows that you know who they are, what they do and why you have chosen them. Don’t go overboard–just make it clear that you didn’t pick this company out of the phone book.

If someone has referred you to the position, mention their name. Just make sure that you get their ‘okay’ before you do. In a tight career market, strong connections are key.

PART 2: WHY YOU? Highlight your accomplishments. Meld their needs with your ability and interests. Use terms and phrases that are meaningful to the employer. (This is where your industry research and networking come in.) If you are applying for an advertised position, use the requirements in the ad and incorporate their language.

PART 3: CLOSE WITH AN ACTIVE ROLE IN YOUR NEXT STEP. Instead of writing that you ‘hope to hear from them’, consider how you can get in the driver’s seat and take the lead. For example, you might say, “I will give you a call to follow up next week”, and then make sure you do. If you have reference letters, add them to your ‘packet’.

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Just remember, your cover letter is your chance to let them see a glimpse of your personality, your abilities and your interest in them.