This is a guest blog post by Lauren from Ohio University!
A wise friend of mine once said to use your cover letter as if it were another writing sample. That kind of mentality can ease your nerves while writing the ever-important letter. But, to think that the content of one page can make or break your chance at an internship or job is beyond terrifying. Take a few breaths and read these tips before you start your next cover letter. You will be surprised at how much these little changes make a difference.
● Cover letters should always be one page. However, one page means one page. There are people that will tell you a cover letter should only have x-amount of paragraphs. Write, edit and play around with different formats until you are happy with the end result. If you fit in everything you wanted to mention, perfect. Just remember to use a critical eye before deciding whether to include something.
● Be creative! Employers do not want to be bored with dull cover letters. Capture their attention and make them want to read more by telling a story. If you are a public relations student, consider designing your cover letter as a press release. For journalism majors, add some flair. Write the first paragraph as you would a lead for an article. This is a different approach to the classic cover letter and chances are yours will definitely stand out.
● Use your cover letter wisely. Do not repeat all the same information from your resume in your cover letter. Emphasize your strengths while expanding on what you could not fit in your resume. Also, always tailor each and every resume to the specific company you are applying to. You can recycle some information but it is in your best interest to spend the extra time personalizing each letter. It will show that you put in the additional work!
● Do your homework. Research the contact person and the company you are writing the letter to. If you can make a connection with the contact person, that is a big plus. Try to plug the company’s mission statement into your letter in a subtle way or mention an article from a recent issue. Not only are you trying to sell yourself in a cover letter but you are also trying to prove you are a great fit for the company.
● Highlight your skills. Impress employers by listing your strongest skills that match up with the job description in an easy-to-read format. For example, if the job description states that the company is looking for someone with social media experience, use bullet points to explain your knowledge and understanding of social media. It will show the company that you read the posting and have a quality they are looking for.
● Proofread, proofread and proofread some more. Not only should you check for grammatical errors but check for conceptual issues, too. Ask friends and family to read your letter and compare it to the employer’s job description. In addition, utilize your school’s career services and faculty advisers to provide professional feedback. Not everyone will agree on the same suggestions but it is good to get multiple opinions before clicking submit.