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Crafting Cover Letters

Your cover letter is an opportunity for you to introduce yourself to a recruiter in a format you cannot duplicate in a resume. Recruiters who request cover letters do read them and use them to establish the difference between a candidate who is moderately interested in the position or very interested in the position. Do not think writing a cover letter is a waste of time! Recruiters talk with Career Management and express the importance of the letters. In addition to looking at your cover letter and resume, recruiters will also look at when you applied. If you apply on the very last day at the very last minute, you send a message to the recruiter that the job was not important enough for you to apply earlier. Making time to apply early and create a tailored cover letter and resume shows you are invested in getting the position. Cover letters generally consist of a salutation, three sections and a closing.

Your greeting will depend on the amount of information you have about the reader. It is always best to know the name of the person who will be reviewing your application. If the recruiter wishes to disclose their name and contact information to you it will be listed in the bottom of the job description in Symplicity. There are some generic greetings if you do not know who your reader will be. Here are some examples of salutations: Dear Mr. (or Ms.) Williams: Dear Personnel Director: Dear Hiring Manager: Dear Human Resource Manager: Dear Sir or Madam: Avoid using To whom it may concern

Section I:
The first section of a cover letter should address: Which position you are applying for How you found out about the position (friend, on campus recruiting, job board, company website - if you plan to use someones name, make sure he or she is aware of it) Who you have talked to about the position/company (if applicable) Why you are applying for this particular role (very brief)

When opening a cover letter, think about the resources you have available and how you can best use them to strengthen your letter. You will generally have a contact name and a job description, a contact name and no job description, or a job description without a contact name. The next section of this packet, Finding Contacts and Networking, will assist you with the steps to generate contacts. Use the information you have to frame your letter appropriately. The matrix and information provided on the following page can help you with this.

Contact Name

No Contact Name

Cite a high quality contact

Link your experience to a description of the job using their terminology

Job Description

Link your experience to the job description using their terminology Link your experience to a performance measure of the business unit

No Job Description

Cite a high quality contact Link your experience to aspects of key initiatives at the business unit

Highlight specific tasks you want to perform and how they connect to your experience and interests

A contact name with a job description: I found and applied for position X on your website. Having reviewed the job description and spoken with Mr. John Smith about the job, I feel confident the overall responsibilities of this positionR1 and R2fit with my experience doing E1 and E2. No contact name but a job description: I applied for position X through your website. Having reviewed the job description, I feel confident the overall responsibilities of this positionR1 and R2fit with my experience doing E1 and E2. A contact name but no job description: I have written to you based on Mr. John Smiths advice. In my conversation with him, I discovered your group has several interesting initiatives underway. In particular, I believe X fits with my experience doing E1 and E2. No lead and no job description: I am an MBA student seeking to apply my experience doing E1 and E2 to projects encompassing P1 and P2. I believe my experience will contribute to such projects in the following ways:

Section II:
The second section should show the reader: Your experience and how it relates to the position Your transferable skills (especially if you are a career changer)

This is the place to highlight experience directly related to the position you are applying for. Do not put every responsibility you have ever had in this section. It needs to pertain to the role you want and should not replicate your resume. By directly relating your experience, you show you are aware of what the position really entails and that you have taken the time to tailor your letter to the actual role.

Section III:
This section of your letter should sell the reader on your passion for the role and your desire to work for the company. Dont just talk about what the company can do for you; show what you can do to help the company. It should show you have done some research about the company, that you know its values, its new innovations/products, goals. You should not show you know something about all of those things because you need to keep the letter brief, but make sure you let the reader know which element(s) of the company got you excited about the prospect of working there. This is a good place to show the reader you have done more than just skim their website. If there is something positive in the news, a press release, the Wall Street Journal or some other type of applicable literature, this could be a good place to indicate the depth of your research use your best judgment.

This is the section where you let the reader know what you will do next. You can state how you will follow up, when you hope to see the recruiter/company on campus or at a job fair, or mention when you will call or email the reader. If you tell the reader you will call or email, make sure you follow through! You can include your contact information in this section or add it with your signature at the bottom of the letter or in a section at the top of the letter. Some cover letter best practices and sample cover letters can be found on the following pages. Dont miss out on a great opportunity because you didnt take the time to write a letter; you never know when it will matter the most.

Cover Letter Best Practices

DO: 1. Address your letter to a named individual. Try to find out the name and title of the person who will be able to hire you and use their name instead of writing "Dear Sir/Madam" or other generic greeting. 2. Construct an original letter to each employer. Research the company prior to writing the letter. Check out recent news, read through the company website, or get to know a present employee or past summer internthen incorporate what you learn into your letter. 3. Speak to the requirements of the job, especially when responding to an online job posting. Give specifics about your skills and experience. Provide examples explaining to the employer how you can meet his/her needs and contribute to the company. 4. Use simple language and uncomplicated sentence structure. Ruthlessly eliminate all unnecessary words. Follow the journalist credo: Write tight! 5. Keep your letter briefwell under one page. Each paragraph should have between two to five sentences. DONT: 1. Ever send your resume without a cover letter for an online job posting on a company website. 2. Reuse a generic letter. It is obvious which a candidate is cutting and pasting the employer and position name into the same letter over and over again. 3. Duplicate your resume you should only highlight a few key aspects of your resume relevant to the position. 4. Depend on the employer to take action. Request an interview/phone call and tell the employer when you will follow up to arrange it. Instead of ending the letter with "I look forward to hearing from you," close with "I will call you next week to discuss a time for us to meet." Make sure to follow through on your commitment. 5. Send a cover letter containing typos, misspellings, or incorrect grammar. 6. Forget to personally sign the letter if you are mailing it. 8. Overload with the constant use of "I."

Cover Letter Samples

Cover Letter: Example #1

Brian Albridge, Recruiting Manager Hexagonal Consulting 666 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 1405 New York, NY 88964 Dear Mr. Albridge, 1st paragraph: Introduce yourself, explain how you know about the company and/or position, and state which position you would like to be interviewed for I am a first year MBA student at the McCombs School of Business and am interested in your Summer Associate Program. After attending your firms information session earlier this semester and after speaking with William Field and several other summer interns, I am extremely impressed with Hexagonal Consulting's approach to the industry and feel certain my background is a great fit for your organization. 2nd paragraph: Highlights the specific skills you have which are relevant to the job description; detail your qualifications (but DONT rehash your resume!) After graduating from Northern College with a degree in accounting, I worked as an associate in the finance department for BMW Motors, where I gained solid analytical and problem-solving abilities. I also fine-tuned my communication and interpersonal skills through frequent presentations and marketing pitches to upper management. In addition, I took on a leadership role in my last year of employment where I managed the daily work of five junior members and took an active role in training new hires. 3rd paragraph: Explain what you know about the company and/or position (show off your research) and detail why you are a good match My analytical, leadership and teamwork experiences have provided me with the tools necessary to perform well in a consulting career, and I know they will allow me to make a significant contribution to your firm. As an experienced financier, I am particularly intrigued by the shareholder value focus of Hexagonal Consulting's methodology. 4th paragraph: State what you will do next I have enclosed my resume for your review. I look forward to meeting you next week during your informational interview session, and I would greatly appreciate being included on your invitation list. Sincerely, John Doe 123 Greensville Court, #456 Austin, TX 78704 (512) 555-5555

Cover Letter: Example #2

John Doe 123 Greensville Court, #456 Austin, TX 78704 (512) 555-5555 Joe James Director of Product Management Colossal Microsystem 12345 Long Winding Way Indianapolis, IN 06551 October 5, 2012 Dear Mr. James: 1st paragraph: Introduce yourself, explain how you know about the company and/or position, and state for which position you would like to be interviewed I am a second year MBA student in the McCombs School of Business graduating in May 2013. The focus of my MBA studies has predominantly been around marketing, and more specifically, product development. Colossal Microsystems long-standing efforts in product management were highly touted in a February 5, 2012 Fortune article. After reading the article and visiting your companys website, I am very interested in learning more about the Product Manager position. 2nd paragraph: Highlight the specific skills you have which are relevant to the job description; detail your qualifications (but DONT rehash your resume!) Highlights of my relevant qualifications and professional experiences include working for a privately held consumer products company as their North American Product Development and Marketing Manager. Additionally, last summer I was an intern with Dell as a Product Development Specialist where I conducted strategic market analysis and market trends research. More recently, I participated in an MBA practicum with Motorola Freescale. As a result, our team generated a business plan for a new technology in the digital radio and audio product group. These experiences have prepared me well for a marketing position with CMI. 3rd paragraph: State what you will do next I will be in Indianapolis during the week of November 5th and hope your schedule will allow us to meet to discuss how my qualifications will benefit your organization. I will be in touch next week to see if we can arrange this brief meeting. My resume is enclosed to provide more details about my background and experience. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards, John Doe