To Cover or Not to Cover?
When is a cover letter appropriate? As a rule of thumb: if you are not personally delivering a resume, send a cover letter.
And now for the exception: For On Campus Recruiting the rules are a bit different. On Eaglelink, make sure to read the application instructions carefully for each employers; this will indicate which documentation you need to apply. If a cover letter is not referenced and there is no link on the application page for the cover letter than you can just submit your resume. If you want to submit a cover letter and there is no place for it, simply save it with your resume as one document and upload it .
Your goal is to get an interview and sometimes writing a persuasive letter is just the thing to tip the scale in your favor. This is especially true if you are applying for a job which requires strong communication/writing skills. On the other hand, nothing says “I don’t care” or “I’m just not that interested” more than a generic cover letter. Seasoned recruiters can spot them in a second.
Here are some basic rules:
- Customize the letter to the company.
- Research the company to figure out what the job entails and what the organization values in employees. If you can’t get details of the specific job, focus on attributes which match the company culture. Talk to current employees (track them down through LinkedIn or the BC alumni career network) and refer to this in your cover letter: it shows initiative.
- Use proper grammar and spelling.
- For email cover letters be sure to list the job you are applying for in the Subject Line of your email message. Some people will email the cover letter and also send it as an attachment which looks more formal.
- Have your cover letter reviewed by someone at the Career Center or Amy Donegan.
- Do not ramble, get to the point.
- Do not just repeat your resume; refer to things on your resume to make a point if necessary.
- Do not talk about how great this opportunity will be for you, focus on how great hiring you will be for them.
Cover Letter Tips
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Use these steps and this cover letter format guide to create your cover letter.
- Start by making sure that you have the proper company name, address, and contact name included on the top of each letter you send. If the job posting did not give a contact name, try calling the company to get one. If the posting prohibits phone calls, use "Dear Hiring Manager" instead of the generic "To Whom it May Concern."
- The first paragraph is your introduction and should explain the reason why you are writing. The title of the job you are seeking along with the name of the publication in which you saw the job posting should appear. If you were referred by a common party, or spoke to an employee or met someone at a job fair, be sure to mention that as well. The last sentence of your introduction should express your interest in the job and confidence in your ability to do it.
- The body of your letter should be two short (no more than four sentences) paragraphs which explain your qualifications. Usually picking two of your greatest strengths which relate to the position and backing them up with examples is the simplest way to go. If the job posting indicated a need for someone who can work unsupervised, describe yourself as a self-starter with proven initiative. Provide an example of when you have done this. Do your best to relate the job requirements to your skills and experiences.
- Keep your conclusion short and simple. Express your interest once more and repeat your confidence in your ability to do the job. Finish by indicating that you will be in contact to determine the next step or, if it is through campus recruiting, indicate that you hope to have the chance to meet them when they are here on campus. Thank them for their consideration. End with a professional closure. "Sincerely" is the most common and normally the most appropriate.