Writing Your First Cover Letter

Nancy Anderson
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When you're looking for your first job after graduation, writing a cover letter isn't something that comes naturally. You probably have little to cite in the way of experience, and your resume may look a bit skimpy. However, you can impress your prospective employers by creating a well-written, precisely targeted cover letter that lets the world know what you have to offer.

Do Your Research

If you've recently graduated from college, doing the research needed for writing a great cover letter should come naturally to you. Research each company to which you apply, learning about its products and services, the position you hope to win and the all-important company culture. Study the job listing and the company's website, and do extra online research so you can target the company and the job specifically in your letter. If you know anyone inside the company, ask for advice and even buy him a cup of coffee to ask questions about how best to proceed.

Include the Basics

Every cover letter has certain requirements you need to include. Make sure your contact information is correct, address your letter to the correct person and don't forget to mention the name of the position you're applying for. End your letter by suggesting you'll follow up to arrange an interview.

Don't Repeat Your Resume

As someone looking for your first job, you probably don't have much to show on your resume. Your cover letter serves as an opportunity to show yourself off and let your skills shine. Point out the skills you've acquired through part-time jobs, school experience and volunteer work. Pay careful attention to the job requirements for the position you want, and write a couple of paragraphs showing how you meet them. Avoid repeating your resume and put all your writing skills to work in order to convince your prospective employer he should take a chance on you while communicating your enthusiasm and willingness to learn.

Proofread Your Cover Letter

Your cover letter should be perfect before you send it out. Any spelling, punctuation or grammatical mistakes can send a message you're sloppy and don't pay attention to detail. Proofread your letter multiple times, and then hand it to your roommate or mentor to let a second set of eyes go over it. Confirm you're using a professional font and format, and check one more time to make sure your details are correct before the letter leaves your hands.

As you enter the working world and seek your first full-time job, one of the items in your job-seeking arsenal is a well-written cover letter. Use your letter to introduce yourself and make your case as a prospective employee, and you may see career doors start to open.

Photo courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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