Cover letters are letters that accompany your resume when you are applying for a professional job. Their job is to introduce you to the employer and to persuade the employer to read your resume. They must simultaneously persuade the employer to read your resume and demonstrate your writing ability.
Despite the importance of cover letters, many college students struggle with writing them. Even students who excel in other types of writing often have difficulty writing cover letters. For some students the problem is that they simply do not understand the importance of a cover letter in their job search. Other students simply do not know how to write a cover letter properly. If you struggle with cover letter writing, it is imperative that you learn to create effective cover letters if you intend to secure a professional job after graduation.
In many cases, your cover letter is first introduction an employer has to you will be your cover letter. It must make a great first impression. It must show employers that it is worth their time to read your resume. Your cover letter should list your most impressive skills from your resume so they are persuaded of your qualifications.
As stated earlier, cover letters also serve as a sample of your writing. Employers use your cover letter to judge your written communication skills. They make this judgment based on how well your letter meets the proper conventions of cover letter writing, the number of grammatical and spelling errors your letter contains, and how well your sentences flow together.
Crafting persuasive and well-written cover letters can be a very difficult task for anyone without experience writing them. Below is a list of steps that students can take to improve their cover letter writing skills:
- Attend cover letter writing workshops given by the department of your college that provides career services.
- Learn the proper format of business letters by reviewing business writing textbooks or doing online searches for business letter writing.
- Practice writing cover letters for job listings that you find online or through other sources. Do not wait until you are ready to apply for a job to begin practicing.
- Meet with a counselor from your college’s career services office for a critique on your practice cover letters
Cover letter writing is a very important skill for students to master because they can make the difference between an employer reading your resume and the employer passing it over. A well-written cover letter may persuade the employer to consider you as a job candidate. On the other hand, a poorly written cover letter may send your resume to the trash before the employer has even glanced at it. Therefore, it is very important for students to take the time to learn proper cover letter writing techniques and to practice writing them.