Write An Outstanding Cover Letter and Be Competitive in the Job Market

When students begin to look for their first job, the process canseem overwhelming. Writing a resume and cover letter is a veryimportant first step. An outstanding resume and cover letter is anopportunity to make you stand out among a large pool of applicantsapplying for the same job. Making sure the basics are covered isimportant for the cover letter, but there are ways to make goodcover letters and resumes great ones.

A cover letter, which should not simplyrestate the resume, should be concise and direct, without spellingand grammatical errors. Errors only show the hiring manager thatyou did not care enough to put a little work into selling yourself.The letter should be short and sweet; whoever is reviewing yourletter possibly has already read hundreds before yours.

One way to stand out is by researching thecompany to learn about its mission, past performance, goals andcorporate culture. Studying the job description and clearlyspelling out how you are an excellent match for that particularopening is another way to stand apart from the crowd.

When researching the company, find out to whomyou should address the letter. A simple phone call to the companycan accomplish this, and is more personal than addressing theletter, “Dear Hiring Manager.” Do not address theletter, “To Whom it May Concern.” It should alsoinclude anything else that briefly explains why you are writing.The first paragraph is also a good place to include a briefreference to something you know about the company. “As one ofthe top manufacturers of computer programming inWashington…”

The next paragraph should contain your salespitch, and describe your professional skills and academicqualifications for the position you’re seeking. This is youropportunity to outline the reasons you are worthy of an interview.Demonstrate your relevant credentials, and anything that would showhow you could benefit their company. Back up your claims ofexcellence with specific examples of how your performance benefitedcurrent of former employers.

Your letter should close with a call foraction. Request that the company schedule an interview with you orcontact you about your application. Politely write that you wouldbe very interested in scheduling an interview and that you wouldappreciate it if he or she would contact you about it.

If you are going to be in the area any timesoon, you should also mention when you’ll be there and how longyou’re going to stay. Close with something like, “Thank youfor your time and consideration.” End with a professionalclose such as “Sincerely” or “RespectfullyYours.” And do not forget to sign the letter.