Erin Minne, Intern

I have written a fair amount of cover letters throughout my college career, and I have picked up on a few pointers from workshops, counselors, and friends about how one should best demonstrate his or her abilities.

The first tip I think about when starting a cover letter is formatting the letter in story form. Too often students reiterate what is already listed in their resumes, which provides no new details to the employer. Rather than making a longer version of your resume, pick one or two examples that you can tell in story form that demonstrate how you are qualified for the position. That way, the HR person or employer can tell whether or not you write well, and an example of how you handled a relevant situation can set you apart from your peers.

The second tip that I have learned by reading my friends’ resumes is that you should always be sure of your abilities. Don’t say “I think I am right for this position,” because you should be certain that you fulfill all of the qualifications for the job.  If you’re not even certain you can do the job, why should the employer read any further? Instead, say “I know I will succeed,” because your confidence will inform the person reading that you at least are convinced that the job is right for you. If you’re not one to brag about yourself, here is your chance to do so. A cover letter is similar to a sales ad—you want the HR person to look at all of your abilities and decide to invest in you. A good worker is like a good asset—the employer is willing to pay for your capabilities if he or she can easily tell you surpass your peers.

Lastly, the third tip is to write how you normally do and don’t say you want the job because you are “passionate” about it. If you are applying for the job, it is apparent that the position is of interest to you. Employers want to know what you can do for them (again with selling your abilities), so simply saying that you like the work they do is not going to put you at the top of the pile.

A cover letter is an applicant’s first impression; state something new that the employer maybe wouldn’t see in the other cover letters. If you can set yourself apart by demonstrating how you are perfect for the job, then the employer has no choice but to look at your resume and consider you for the position.