Smart Girls who are applying to internships and jobs know that their cover letter is just as important, if not more important, than their resume. Your cover letter is a place to showcase your personality and passion, and knowing how to properly write a cover letter is crucial if you want to land an interview for your dream job. Who do you address it to? How long should it be? Can I send the same letter to each company? Read the tips below for the answers to these questions:
Start with a direct salutation
Use your Smart Girl stalking skills to find the name of the hiring manager/intern coordinator for the company you are applying to, and address your letter directly to this person (Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms.). Google and LinkedIn are your best friends during this step. However, if you’ve exhausted your stalking capabilities, it’s acceptable to write “To whom it may concern.”
Start with what job you’re applying for, and then tell them why you’re specifically interested in their company. You cannot and should not use the same cover letter for each position for which you’re applying! Here is where you need to do your research if you’re not familiar with the organization. Take a look at their website, but don’t forget to check other unexpected sources as well. Their social media accounts and LinkedIn page may offer valuable insight. If you really want to stand out, see if there is any recent news about the company that you could briefly mention. From this information, it will be easy to express why you want to work at that company.
Highlight your value
Specifically outline what you can do for the organization and what value you can provide. Obviously you cannot write that you will lead the company to reach $4 billion in sales or that you will execute a campaign to double their customer count in one month (especially if you’re applying to an internship), but you should highlight your achievements from previous jobs. Briefly describe the skills you acquired and how you will use those skills to bring value to the position for which you’re applying (a few bullets are good for this!). Match your strengths, skills, experiences, and accomplishments with what they’re looking for. Not sure how to do this? Put their job description into a Word Cloud and see which words pop up. Do the same with your resume. Do they have any words in common? Use these words to show why you’re exactly what they’re looking for.
This part should be a no-brainer for all you polite and considerate Smart Girls. Thank the reader for his/her time, share the email address and phone number at which to best contact you, and express your interest in further speaking to the hiring manager about the position. AKA, ask for an interview!
Always remember that the best cover letters show your genuine self and not the person you are trying to sound like to the company. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll have an interview in no time!
— Kristen McNeill