An important step in the application process that is often overlooked is the cover letter. Cover letters are the first thing an employer sees, even before they look at your resume, so it is imperative that you make a good impression through this letter.

Similar to resumes, cover letters have a specific format that all applicants should follow. Not only does the cover letter introduce your resume, but it should also capture the attention of the potential employer. The cover letter should contain all of the same information that is seen at the top of your resume, such as your name, email address and the addresses of your current and permanent residences. You should always include a specific name of the person who will be reading your resume, or at the very least, use a job title. Avoid using "To Whom It May Concern" if at all possible.

After the greeting section of the cover letter is the first introductory paragraph. These paragraphs should be clear, concise and convincing. This first paragraph explains why you are writing to the person or organization. If you found out about the specific position you are applying for from a personal contact within the company, it is important to mention their name in this paragraph as long as you have permission to use their name. It is also important to show a sincere interest in the company and to explain why you are a good candidate for this position. Remember, cover letters should be convincing, so be sure to have good reasons as to why you want the position.

The second paragraph should give a brief introduction to how your education has prepared you for this position, while the third paragraph should explain how your work experiences and skills can benefit the organization It is important to show your experience in the cover letter because your resume will expand on that information. Briefly describe what you have learned at previous positions and how you will bring those skills into the new work environment. In the final paragraph, you should mention that you will follow-up and remain updated on any other opportunities in the company. This shows an employer that you are being proactive in your job search and that you have sincere interest in the company.

Since they are clear and concise, cover letters should never be more than one page, and always let your personality show! If you have any questions or if you need assistance in formatting or writing your cover letter, please stop by or make an appointment at the Career Center!