Cover Letter Tips

by Sophia Leonard

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Cover letters are a source of anxiety for many students, graduates, and even experienced workers. While not all jobs will require them, those that do will use them alongside your resume to create a more complete picture of who you are. Cover letters help companies see your personality, determine if you're a good fit for the job, and see how your experience is relevant to the job you're applying for. While the advice on how to write a solid cover letter varies greatly from person to person, here are some general guidelines to help you get started:

Tone
In a cover letter, it's important to convey that you are confident that you have the skills and ability to do the job you're applying for, and do it well. It's a fine line between confident and arrogant, so be sure to have someone else take a your letter to see how it comes off to a first-time reader. The person receiving your application likely won't know your personality prior to reading, so it's important that your letter comes across to other people the way you intend it to.

Be relevant
When you include examples of your experience (professional or otherwise), ensure that you've read the job requirements and duties thoroughly. It can give a bad impression if you don't show that you understand what the position requires. Feel free to borrow the language used in the job description in order to be clear about what you have to offer, just don't plagiarize!

Show them what you have to offer
While it's important for you to want the job, the employer will want to know in this letter why they should want YOU. Don't focus just on why you want it - they will know you want the job because you are applying for it - show them what you have to offer and why that will benefit them.

Know who you're talking to
Don't take this too literally - you don't need to run a background check on the hiring manager! But do some research on the company to get a sense of its values and culture. This is not only important for wording your cover letter appropriately, but also to see if you think this is somewhere that you would enjoy working.

There are loads of great resources out there for students who need guidance - whether it's how to look for a job, putting together your resume, or drafting a cover letter. Check out your school's career centre, employment agencies, youth work programs, and online resources.

Modified on June 09, 2014