What Does Your Cover Letter Say About You?

If your resume is the conversation, then your cover letter is your handshake. A lot can be communicated by a handshake, right? The same is true of your cover letter.
 
When applying for a job, the thing people most often fret over is the resume. Yes, it should be perfect and tailored to the job to which you are applying, but it is only a piece of your application puzzle. In order to really give a sense of who you are and the value you will add to the department or company you wish to work for, your cover letter needs to be thorough and specific.
 
Tip: Your cover letter is your sales pitch. It can say the things your resume can’t.
 
Your resume is a great overview representation of your career experience that is pertinent to the job to which you are applying. It highlights what you’ve done for past employers; your cover letter fills in the gaps and is your way of telling your potential employer what you can do for them. It is your chance to personally address your hiring manager and give a great first impression.
 
Cover Letter Do’s
  • Ensure your cover letter is well written and free from error. Use the same formatting, font and high quality paper as your resume.
  • Keep it on one page.
  • Tailor your cover letter for each job to which you are applying. Do your research and address it to the hiring manager, if possible.
  • Use specific examples of “wins” in your career that would translate into the job you wish to have.
 
Cover Letter Don’ts
  • Don’t simply regurgitate what is already on your resume. Use examples and measurable data of things you have accomplished that the hiring manager would find beneficial and impressive. 
  • Don’t talk numbers. Salary discussions should come later in the hiring process.
 
Tip: If you are looking for the best examples from your career to highlight in your cover letter, browse the job description that you are applying to and pull out keywords and skills. These can be a great jumping-off point for ensuring that the skills you are highlighting are those desired by your potential employer.
 
When writing a cover letter, answer the six W’s:
  1. What position are you applying to?
  2. Where did you hear of the job opportunity?
  3. Who are you (what is your experience and education)?
  4. Why are you interested in this position and/or company?
  5. Why should you be considered?
  6. Where can you be contacted?
 
If you would like more information on creating a great cover letter, or any other career-related assistance, contact CSU Career Services. The dedicated career development counselors are available to students and alumni for resume review, mock interviews, job search strategies and more.
 
This article was first published in the CSU Alumni Magazine