Job searching without much work experience can be frustrating. Employers will say that experience is needed to get a job, but without a job how is there a way to get experience? Overcoming this paradox is critical to launching a career. Getting to the interview, gives a job seeker a chance to show their attitude, enthusiasm, work ethic, communications skills, willingness to learn, and knowledge of the company and role. The right combination can possibly land the job. To get the interview, a great cover letter can help enormously in the job search.
The focus of this kind of cover letter is to prove that your personal qualities and characteristics are a good fit with the requirements of the job and also that they will make a positive contribution to the organization or business.
- In the first paragraph, clearly introduce yourself. Introduce who you are, mention what job you’re applying for and say how you discovered the opportunity. If you have connections with anyone in the company, mention their name in this paragraph, for example, if you know a classmate who interned for the organization.
- In the second paragraph, respond to the requirements of the job. It’s time to take about your relevant skills and accomplishments and how they relate to the job posting. Use the buzzwords in the job listing and incorporate them into this part of the letter. Leverage any experience including volunteer work, internships, part-time jobs you have had, including babysitting. Your hobbies and interests may also be relevant. Make sure you spend time learning about the company from their website, social media and blogs. Your goal is to make your experiences meet the challenges required by the company and presented in the job description. You also want to make it clear why your job skills fit the particular company to which you are applying.
- In the third paragraph, describe your best qualities and how they make you a great fit for the job. Describe a strong work ethic, how you work well with others, your communication skills, your creativity, your problem solving skills or any other exemplary qualities. And don’t just say you have those qualities, give a short, but real-life example that demonstrates those specific qualities. For example, describe how you formed a team and motivated them to raise money for a cause. Make sure the skills you are showing off match the job.
- In the fourth paragraph, conclude with a call to action. The goal is to get the job interview. Your lasting impression should be confident, upbeat, and encouraging- so the hiring manager wants to get in touch with you. Add a follow up: “I will phone you on Tuesday, November 17 at 2:00 p.m.”
- Pay attention to format. Put a header at the top of the document including your contact information and a shortened URL for your LinkedIn account. The sign-off can be formal, like “Sincerely,” or something warmer, like “All the best.” Make the salutation formal like “Dear Ms. Capone” or “To whom it may concern.” Cover letters can be in the body of an email with the résumé as an attachment. Or the letter can be sent as a PDF attachment. Saving it as a PDF will ensure the formatting of your cover letter doesn’t change once it’s downloaded by the recipient.
- Proofread carefully! And get someone to recheck it for you.
Edit the Work Note: All job seekers should have a LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have one, make sure you create one. On your profile, you can give a more in-depth description of your skills. LinkedIn can also be a great place to discover whether you know someone connected to the company where you want to work.