Did you cover everything? Tips on writing a winning cover letter.

A winning cover letter catches the reader’s attention and makes him, or her, want to review your resume and schedule an interview.

What exactly is the purpose of a cover letter? A cover letter is an introduction to an employer without meeting face to face.  The cover letter accompanies the resume to explain the position for which you are applying and how you meet the qualifications they are seeking. A winning cover letter catches the reader’s attention and makes him, or her, want to review your resume and schedule an interview.

A cover letter provides an employer a sample of your writing and communication skills. Therefore, taking time and care while building this document is key. Before beginning the writing process, make sure to research the employer.  Find pertinent information about the employer on the internet that will aid in customizing your cover letter and job search such as:

  • Find the mission statement, goals and values of the organization
  • Learn about their products and services
  • Read the “about us” section
  • Review the job posting thoroughly for skills and qualities they are seeking

In writing your cover letter, Michigan State University Extension has a few general tips to keep in mind:

  • Think of yourself as the product with the employer as the customer and market yourself!
  • Draw connections to your skills and experiences and show how the company will benefit.
  • Address the letter to a specific person if you can.
  • Be concise and keep your letter to a single page.
  • Make sure to show your interest and enthusiasm in the company and position.
  • Spelling and grammar do count, so have someone proofread for you.
  • Don’t repeat your resume, it should be attached.
  • If it is an attachment, send it as a PDF, but check to make sure it translated correctly.

Sample cover letters, additional tips and things to avoid can be found through MSU Career Services Network. In addition, Michigan State University 4-H Youth Development has everything you need before, during and after your job search. For workshops across the state, articles and additional career preparation resources, visit MSU Extension.

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