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Life After College: Writing Your Cover Letter

Writing Your Cover Letter
"You have to be the one promoting yourself. If you don't think that you're worthy, you're never going to make it."  -Misty Copeland

Tips When Writing Your Resume


Customize Your Header

If you are writing your cover letter directly into an online job application, there is no need to include your additional contact information (as you will have already submitted this information). If you are including your cover letter as an attachment, use the same heading as your resume to give a uniform look across all of your documents.



Use an Appropriate Greeting

If you know the name of the hiring manager, begin your cover letter by addressing them directly (Dear Jane Smith). If you don't know the name, begin the letter with a simple "Dear Sir or Madame" or "To Whom It May Concern". 



Avoid Generic References to Your Skills

Whenever possible, tell meaningful anecdotes that tie your skills to concrete results. TO make an impact, you need to show the examples of your skills in action. 



Keep It Short and to the Point

Read the job description closely to identify the best opportunities to illustrate your qualifications. Choose one or two achievements to highlight, and use just a few detailed but concise sentences to explain them.



Proofread Before You Submit

Reread your cover letter several times before submitting it. Keep an eye out for spelling and grammar errors, and try reading it aloud to find any errors. Also, if you are reusing a previous letter and customizing it, make sure the company information and job title are updated throughout the letter.



Leave Out Personal Information

There is no need to share information about your personal life and family. Keep the letter professional and focus on the job's requirements and qualifications needed.

Academic and Career Services Center at DWU

The Academic and Career Services Center is here to help you find and use your strengths, connect your talents with your educational goals and give you the clarity and focus you need to succeed well after you graduate from DWU.

Academic and Career Services can help you write and edit your resume, prepare for an interview, and locate jobs and internships. 


Contact Information 

Kristy Zink
Email: kristy.zink@dwu.edu
Phone: (605) 995-2904
Office: McGovern Library 202

 

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What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a one-page document that is sent along with your resume and job application. A cover letter is your chance to tell your potential employer why you're the perfect person for the job, and how your skills and experiences will add value to the company and the position. This letter is where you can let your personality show, and acts as an introduction to the you. 


So do you need to send a cover letter?

Short answer: yes. 

Long answer: Still yes, because cover letters allow you to explain points within your resume that might have gotten glossed over due to space and brevity. The cover letter also can help you get someone's attention if your resume was strong, but didn't jump up and stand out. Finally, most hiring committees and hiring managers are looking for and expect a resume to be included. 

Basic Format of a Cover Letter

Opening Introduction 

Start with a "To Whom it Concerns" or "Dear Hiring Manager's Name". Try and find a name to attach to the opening salutation - it shows that you aren't using a generic cover letter for multiple job applications, and also shows that you did a little bit of research beforehand. 


Paragraph 1: Your Intent to Apply

Write out an introductory paragraph that includes the title of the position you are applying for. Also include a short statement about your enthusiasm in regards to the job opening and the company as a whole. 


Paragraph 2: Your Background

Provide a brief overview of your background (as it is relevant to the position), include key achievements, skills and specialties, and focus on one or two specific details about your success. Pay attention to the keywords listed in the job description, and include the ones that you qualify for and excel in. This paragraph can be expanded into a second paragraph if needed, as this section is the largest area of discussion within your cover letter. 


Paragraph 3: Why You Are Qualified

Here is where you want to spell out why you are qualified for the position. Try not to repeat details from your resume, but do expand on the details by providing specific stories, anecdotes, and examples that display your fitness for the role. 


Conclusion Paragraph 

Keep the closing paragraph brief, recapping the reasons you are applying for the job and why you are a great fit. Here is where you will explain that you are looking forward to hearing from the employer with the next steps. 


Closing Salutation 

End with a "Sincerely" or "All the best", and your name. If you are sending a physical letter (not by email) make sure to sign the letter as well. 

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